Rare genetic tweaks may not be behind common diseases

Variants thought to be behind inherited conditions prove difficult to pin down

By Tina Hesman Saey, 16:02 PM November 8, 2012

SAN FRANCISCO — Rare tweaks in single letters of DNA are not as powerful a force in health and in common diseases as scientists hoped, new work suggests.

Common genetic variants contribute only a tiny bit to a person’s risk of developing particular diseases, so researchers have turned to rare variants as a possible explanation for why some people inherit a propensity for heart disease, diabetes or other common ailments. These rare variants, present in a small percentage of people, are thou...

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