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Nabbing suspicious SNPs

Scientists search the whole genome for clues to common diseases

2:52pm, June 6, 2008

Old-fashioned gene hunting wasn’t terribly efficient. Geneticists typically pursued one gene at a time, armed only with guessesusually wrongabout which chunks of genetic code might be linked to human disease.

Geneticists managed to bag a few trophies anywaygenes for Huntington’s chorea and cystic fibrosis, for examplemostly in rare diseases caused by a problem in a single, high-powered gene. Unfortunately, most of the more common diseases, such as type II diabetes, are instead controlled by a whole crowd of gene variants, each playing a small and often subtle role in the path to disease.

To spot these quiet genes lying in the genomic underbrush, disease geneticists realized they’d better try a new tack. In the mid-1990s, the most

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