Thursday, September 20, 2007

association studies of classic traits

It would be a lot of fun (although also an IRB nightmare) to involve a bunch of schools in an association study. In school we learn about tongue rolling and attached ear-lobes being classic Mendelian traits, but I don't think we (or I anyway) know the genes underlying these traits. It would be great to take classes of kids from around the country and get their teachers to phenotype them (i.e. can you roll your tongue, are your earlobes attached), and then genotype them on SNP arrays. The investigator could then determine the locus underlying these traits presumably fairly easily given how simple the traits are. The whole thing could be a big science project for a load of schools and really get kids and parent excited about science and mapping.

I guess the only problem with this idea (apart from the ethical committees and the like) is that it would give kids and parents the wrong idea about how simple and deterministic genetic variation is.

5 comments:

Razib said...

yeah, the ethical thing is what i thought.

Razib said...

...but how does the genographic project get around that? i mean, it convinces people to pay for the testing and send samples in.

p-ter said...

but how does the genographic project get around that? i mean, it convinces people to pay for the testing and send samples in.

not 12-year-old kids though :)

G said...

one idea would be to discover the loci in a standard (non-kid based panel) and then just type kids at just these loci. That way you could provide them with an answer as to why they have a particular trait (e.g. attached earlobes). They could also be typed at non-disease loci (eg the recent height gene) that have weak effect, to help them understand the weak predictive ability of most loci.

G said...

the idea being that this get around having kids giving away genetic information to some company/research group, but keeps much of the fun element.