(ASHG) meeting and will be presenting on all of these topics. Here are some highlights:Are My Genes Making me Myopic?
Myopia, or nearsightedness, is thought to be highly heritable — if your mother wore glasses to see the chalkboard chances are you might need them — but until now scientists have only known a little about the underlying genetics.23andMe scientist Amy Kiefer* will present results from a genetic study carried out with data from 23,000 nearsighted customers and 16,000 controls, all with European ancestry. The analysis identified associations between 17 genetic factors and myopia and replicated the only two previously identified associations in Europeans. Many of the new factors are located in genes that play important roles in eye development and function. This analysis is the largest ever gene association study on this topic.Making a Stretch for My Genes
Some of us are all too familiar with stretch marks — red or white lines that appear on the skin, often after pregnancy. The appearance of these marks has encouraged many to open their wallets (to the tune of $5-10 billion annually) and fill their cupboards with cosmetics that claim to prevent or treat stretch marks.But despite the range of products promising to “make those lines vanish”, very little is understood about what causes them in the first place. And up until 23andMe took a stab, no genetic factors had been associated with stretch marks in the general population.Meghan Mullins* from 23andMe will present results from a genetic study with 30,000 customers who responded to the following question on the 23andMe website: “Do you have stretch marks on your hips, thighs, or backs of your arms? Yes/No/I’m not sure”. The analysis identified an association between stretch marks and a variant near a gene called elastin. Defects in the elastin gene are known to affect the integrity of the skin as well as cause heart defects. This study also identified an association between stretch marks and a variant in a protein called SRPX, but more work is needed to understand how this protein could play a role in this condition.
A Motion for the Genetics of Motion Sickness
Roughly one in three individuals is highly susceptible to motion sickness; the remaining two-thirds of the population may experience motion sickness if the conditions are extreme. We understand what provokes motion sickness — traveling in cars, boats, planes, and also more unusual modes of transportation like skiing or riding a camel. Partaking in simulator experiments, for instance those carried out by the US Air Force and NASA, and escaping into virtual reality environments (aka playing video games) can also provoke motion sickness.
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