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Height genes in the hundreds

Monday October 6th, 2014

British researchers have helped to identify nearly 700 genetic variants linked to human height, it was announced last night.

The genes are found in more than 400 regions of the human genome, researchers said.

The findings will help satisfy human curiosity about the sources of height - but may have a range of medical applications, researchers said.

This would include creating improved checks to establish whether children are growing normally.

The project was led by the Exeter University Medical School and backed by the UK-based Wellcome Trust.

It involved some 450 researchers in 300 global institutions.

It is just seven years since the first gene linked to height was identified.

But, even now, the researchers say their findings explain no more than 20% of the differences in human height.

Researcher Professor Tim Frayling said: "This goes a long way towards fulfilling a scientific curiosity that could have real impact in the treatment of diseases that can be influenced by height, such as osteoporosis, cancer or heart disease.

"It is also a step forward towards a test that may reassure parents worried that their child is not growing as well as they'd hoped - most of these children have probably simply inherited a big batch of short genes."

Fellow researcher Dr Andrew Wood said: "Our results suggest that massive human genetic studies, possibly into the millions, will continue to uncover all the subtle effects of our genetic variation that influence our health, behaviour, body shape and all aspects of what makes us who we are."

Nature Genetics 5 October 2014

Tags: Australia | Child Health | Genetics | North America | UK News | World Health

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