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Iceland lays bare its genomes

Population-wide study points to genetic link to Alzheimer’s, liver disease

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2:51pm, March 25, 2015
Iceland Genome Lab

PAINTING A PORTRAIT  Scientists are sequencing the genomes of a large swath of Icelanders to better understand the genetic underpinnings of disease.

By pinpointing a suite of dysfunctional genes, a detailed genetic portrait of the Icelandic population has helped scientists identify rare gene variants associated with Alzheimer’s disease and other medical problems.

An international team of researchers working with deCODE, a genetics company based in Reykjavík, Iceland, determined the complete genetic instruction manuals of 2,636 Icelanders. The team then used those genomes to fill in gaps in genetic information taken from about 100,000 other Icelanders. The result is the largest set of human genomes sequenced from a single population.

One of the things the data revealed are rare variants of a gene called ABCA7 that double Icelanders’ risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, the team reports online March 25 in one of a series of papers in Nature Genetics. Previous

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