23andMe Scientists Share Novel Findings From Our Research Platform at ICHG/ASHG 2011

Attending ICHG/ASHG? Don’t forget to come to Les 3 Brasseurs tonight for a chance to win an exome (and drinks on us)!

In our last post, we announced four of the posters 23andMe scientists will be presenting in Montreal this week describing characteristics of our database and research platform. With the help of our tens of thousands of research participants, we’ve already made novel discoveries into the genetics of common traits as well as Parkinson’s disease. At ICHG/ASHG 2011, we’ll share some more of the novel findings we’ve discovered, covering everything from allergies to risk assessment.

(For a full list of 23andMe’s presentations, click here.)

Piecing together the complicated picture of allergies

If you’re like 20% of Americans, you probably suffer from at least one allergy. Your particular trigger might be cats, or maybe it’s dust mites, pollen, nuts, shellfish, or bees. And if that’s not enough misery, allergies are often accompanied by asthma as well. To learn more about the genetic factors influencing the allergy-asthma spectrum, scientists from 23andMe, Stanford, the United Kingdom, and Johnson & Johnson analyzed data from more than 20,000 participants in the 23andMe database and the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC).

Principal Scientist Dr. David Hinds discusses their findings during the poster session on Thursday October 13th between 2-3pm with his poster, “Genetics of allergy and related phenotypes in participant driven and cross sectional cohorts.” (#417T)

(Also see our Research Finding on correlations between allergies.)

New genetic factors for hypothyroidism

What do Oprah Winfrey, Kelly Osbourne, and Linda Ronstadt have in common? Yes, they’re all famous women, but they also all suffer from hypothyroidism, a condition that affects about 5% of the population. 23andMe scientists conducted the first genome-wide association study of this common thyroid condition and identified four genetic factors associated with the disease, some of which have already been implicated in other thyroid disorders and some that are novel.

Founding Scientist Dr. Brian Naughton presents these findings and their broader connection with other autoimmune diseases during the poster session on Wednesday October 12th between 3-4pm with his poster, “Novel associations for hypothyroidism include known autoimmune risk loci.” (#1334W)

 (Also see our Research Finding on hypothyroidism.)

From genome to phenome

What do you get when you cross thousands of SNPs with thousands of phenotypes gathered from tens of thousands of people? Intriguing associations for everything from migraines to mosquito bites. Many genetic variants are associated with multiple conditions, a finding that was especially prominent amongst physical traits. We also found that associations for seemingly frivolous traits (breast size) can uncover biological relationships for serious diseases (breast cancer).

Principal Scientist Dr. Nick Eriksson describes these and other fascinating discoveries during the poster session on Thursday October 13th between 2-3pm with his poster, “Phenome-wide studies of SNPs from GWAS in a broadly phenotyped population.” (#430T)

All in the family — or not?

Conventional wisdom says that family history is the best overall method for assessing a person’s risk for disease, but is it really? How do SNP-based models compare to family history in assessing risk for disease?  Perhaps not surprisingly, neither method is universally better than the other, but rather the relative performance of each depends on the characteristics of the disease. For less common diseases in particular, SNP-based risk assessments may perform better than family history.

Principal Scientist Dr. Nick Eriksson will be presenting the results of these analyses performed by Scientist Dr. Chuong (Tom) Do during the poster session on Wednesday October 12th between 3-4pm with the poster, “Prediction of complex multifactorial disease: comparing family history and genetics.” (#408W)

And that’s not all…

Read more about characteristics of our database and research cohorts here. Check back tomorrow to learn more about the last two presentations we’ll be giving covering methods behind our Ancestry Finder feature and how we decide what genetics findings to include in our Personal Genome Service®.

For a full list of 23andMe’s presentations, click here.

You can also follow us on Twitter for highlights from the conference @23andMe or @23science.






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