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Genome-wide association study (GWAS)

Related Terms

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Background

  • A genome-wide association study (GWAS) examines the genetic variation across the human genome. Genetics is the study of the function and behavior of genes, the basic unit of heredity found in the cells of all living organisms. Genes determine the physical characteristics that an organism inherits, such as leaf shape for a tree and eye color for a person. The human genome is the complete hereditary information of Homo sapiens;all of genetic information is stored on 23 chromosomes, on a single piece of DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) that contains many genes.
  • A GWAS rapidly scans a complete set of human DNA for markers for various traits. Samples are obtained from the individuals by a blood sample or by rubbing a cotton swab along the inside of the mouth to collect cells. When a GWAS is performed on large numbers of individuals of any age patterns begin to emerge, revealing which genes are associated with which traits. Once genetic associations are identified, scientists can use this information to better prevent, detect, and treat diseases. Examples of disease states that have been studied with GWAS include asthma, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and mental illness.
  • Human DNA is very similar from person to person. Differences between individuals account for only 0.1% of the DNA. However, this small amount is enough to account for the observable differences between individuals.

Methods

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Research

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Implications

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Limitations

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Safety

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Future Research

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Author Information

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References

Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.

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