Darren Griffin comments on GIANT study

GIANT makes short work of height gene discovery

Don’t you just love it when an acronym comes together? In the pages of last week’s edition of Nature (see BioNews 887), a consortium that styles itself with the moniker ‘GIANT’ (short for Genetic Investigation of Anthropometric Traits – I’ll try to keep further puns to a minimum) describes 83 novel but rare genetic variants that are related to human height. The study involved more than 700,000 people and the dark art of genome-wide association studies, or GWAS. Basically, GWAS use DNA arrays or ‘chips’ – collections of known DNA variations – to search the genomes of a large number of individuals for these variations, and so link them to traits. The more people are analysed, the more ‘power’ the study is said to have, in that it can accurately link less common variations to traits. Height is a complex trait involving many genes, and this study brings the total known to be involved to around 700.

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