Thursday 17 July 2014

A hint at the genomes impact on our social lives

GWAS is still in the news and still finding hits, the number of GWAS hits has increased rapidly since the first publication for AMD in 2005. Watch the movie to see the last decade of work!

A recent paper in PNAS seems to have got people talking: in Friendship and natural selection Nicholas Christakis and James Fowler describe their analysis of the Framingham Heart Study (FHS) data; specifically the data of people recorded as friends by participants. The FHS recorded lots of information about relatives (parents, spouses, siblings, children), but also asked participants “please tell us the name of a close friend". Some of those friends were also participants and it is this data the paper used to determine a kinship coefficient, higher values indicate that two individuals share a greater number of genotypes (homophily.

The study has generated a lot of interest and news (GenomeWeb, BBC, Altmetric) but also some negative comments, mainly about how difficult this is to prove in a study where you cannot rule out genetic relationships individuals themselves don't know exist (i.e. I don't know who my third cousins are and might make friends by chance).

The data in supplemental files from PNAS paper show Manhattan plot (top) for the identified loci, its not as stunning an example as you'd see in other fields. Compare it to a well characterised GWAS hit from a replicated study in Ovarian Cancer (bottom).

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