Expect to see a lot more headlines about genes being traced to specific diseases soon.
That's because the Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research in Dallas has developed a new system for quickly identifying such genes.
As a proof of concept, they found a gene linked to the production of HDL cholesterol, the "good" cholesterol I don't have much of.
The idea, which is being published in Nature Genetics, involves first finding genes whose variations affect their own output, then narrowing in on those relating to a specific disease or trait. This makes sifting through the 25,000 genes in the human genome quick.
Lead researcher John Blangero also credited the company's computing cluster and the ongoing San Antonio Family Heart Study with spurring its breakthrough. (The study's logo is shown above.) The former gave SFBR enormous computing power, the latter a genetic base on which to work.
Again, the key here is that we're talking about a method, not so much the specific gene. (Although if you've got one of those HDL genes to lend me, I'd love one.) Once we can isolate genes to causes, we can get much faster results tracking the causes of disease. And changing the outcome.