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"Small Effects From Millions Of Genes May Add Up To New Risk-Screening Tool" - Cheryl Platzman Weinstock

  • WSAU Radio
  • New York, NY
  • (August 21, 2018)

Subtle variations in millions of genes contribute to individual risk for common illnesses like heart disease and diabetes - and putting them all together into a "polygenic" risk profile can identify many more people with higher than average odds of getting sick, researchers say. These genes, which produce observable effects only in concert with other genes, are called polygenes. In a test using data from nearly half a million people with genetic samples in the UK Biobank, the experimental polygenic screening tool identified 20 times more people with a heightened risk for coronary artery disease than current single-gene tests would predict, for example.  Experts not involved in the study said the test raises important questions about how it should be further developed and used. "I'm an advocate for this and I'm a fan . . . . What it takes to put this test into clinical practice will still take a bit of work," said Eric Schadt, MD, dean of precision medicine and professor of genetics and genomic sciences at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.

- Eric E. Schadt, PhD, Dean, Precision Medicine, Professor, Genetics and Genomic Sciences, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, Founder and CEO, Sema4

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