Over the summer, scientists in the United States accomplished a major first: genetically modifying a human embryo to treat a common genetic heart disease. Okay, so scientists in China are way ahead , and a few researchers in Europe had the U. But the U. The A.
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We are poised to make great strides in improving our understanding of human microevolution through increased understanding of the genetic determinants of normal variation. The exciting growth in research on human populations, particularly in the areas of genomic screening and large-scale family studies, is yielding a wealth of new information about the determinants of variation in both normal and disease-related phenotypes.
Genome scans not only allow unambiguous identification of genetic influences on human variation but also provide a means by which the environmental influences on human variation can be quantified and distinguished from genetic influences.
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New analytical tools available for genetic analysis, such as variance components based linkage analysis [e. These approaches allow explicit incorporation of measured environmental effects so that the variance in a trait can be partitioned between genetic and environmental effects, for example, among genetic effects, household effects, sex effects, and random environmental effects. Similarly, these methods enable the assessment of the role of genotype-by-environment interaction in human variation.
The study of genotype-by-environment interaction is of direct relevance to the field of human adaptability because it implies genetically based differential response to environmental challenge. Over the next decade we can expect an explosive growth of research on the genetic determinants of phenotypic variation, particularly in the area of analyses of linkage between quantitative traits and specific genetic markers. Anthropological populations have unique advantages for many of these types of studies, and there is great interest in focusing on isolate populations for gene mapping.
Although some studies have focused on true geographic isolates, such as the Icelandic population Styrkarsdottir et al.
The analysis of large extended pedigrees is a powerful study design for human genetic research designed to localize genes influencing human quantitative variation. Large extended pedigrees can be reconstructed in any stable population that has a relatively low migration rate. House-to-house sampling has been used to reconstruct extended pedigrees consisting of hundreds Project MUSE promotes the creation and dissemination of essential humanities and social science resources through collaboration with libraries, publishers, and scholars worldwide.
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