Eye on DNA Links for 30 July 2007

Eye on DNA Links for 30 July 2007

by Dr. Hsien-Hsien Lei
Posted July 30, 2007 in DNA and Disease, Eye on DNA Headlines

  • dna graffitiGene Genie #12 is up at My Biotech Life.
  • Blaine at The Genetic Genealogist has details on nine of the 10 first participants of the Personal Genome Project.
  • Two genetic variants have been found to increase the risk of multiple sclerosis (MS). They’re the first genes to be found for MS in 20 years; the first found was the gene for HLA-DRB1, which increases the risk of MS four-fold. Both of the new genes encode interleukin receptors that are found on the surface of T cells in the immune system: IL7R-alpha and IL2R-alpha. Each appears to increase the risk of MS by 20 to 30%.
  • People with a variant of the ADRA2B gene, involved in the transport of noradrenaline in the brain, may be better able to recall “emotionally intense,” good or bad memories. Example given:

    …survivors of the 1994 Rwandan genocide were more likely to harbour persistent memories of the conflict if they had the variant version of the gene.

    This finding may help in developing appropriate treatment for psychological conditions such as post-traumatic stress syndrome.

  • Relatives of missing POW’s have been donating their mtDNA to the Department of Defense in case there’s a match to a recovered body. In a test program being run in Pennsylvania, the Pentagon is sending DNA collection kits directly to families. Larry Greer, an official at the DOD:

    We’re still seeking to account for about 8,100 from the Korean War, 1,700 from Vietnam, and about 78,000 from World War II. It’s a huge task, and DNA is a part of it. With a bone sample from a serviceman and a saliva sample from someone in the maternal bloodline, we can identify a DNA match.

    I’m not really clear why they’re asking for relatives on the mother’s side of the missing servicemen’s families–mother, sister, brother, sister’s children–especially when there has already been a case where two servicemen’s mtDNA matched but there were no records to suggest they were related (except possibly via a common ancestor many generations in the past). For more information, visit the DNA section of the Defense Prisoner of War/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) website. To donate a DNA sample to the DOD database, contact the casualty office for the branch of the military in which the missing serviceman served.

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