By Nick Eriksson
At 23andMe, we read a lot of papers so that we can bring our customers the latest information about their genetics. This is a tall task: there were nearly a million papers published in the biomedical and life sciences in the year 2011 alone. That’s why we’re appreciative when others wade through all of this data.
We’re particularly excited about a recent paper in PLoS Genetics — “Comprehensive Research Synopsis and Systematic Meta-Analyses in Parkinson’s Disease Genetics: The PDGene Database” — for several reasons. Not only is April Parkinson’s Disease Awareness Month but we’re proud to say that 23andMe contributed to this new database with the help of the many active participants in our Parkinson’s disease research community.
The authors of the paper looked at over 27,000 articles published on Parkinson’s disease, including over 800 genetic association studies of the disease (such as the 23andMe study published last summer). They gathered data from over 3,000 different genetic polymorphisms from these studies in order to create the most comprehensive synopsis of Parkinson’s disease genetic research to date.
Scientists are trained to look for novelty. Thus, the task of summarizing other people’s work often can seem rather thankless. This paper, however, shows the importance of taking a second look at published data. The authors confirmed the associations between 11 genes and Parkinson’s disease that had previously been reported. Importantly, they also found a new genetic association near a gene called ITGA8, moving us another step closer in figuring out how genetics affects Parkinson’s disease risk.