Yale Researchers Look to Genetics to Understand Gender Differences in Diseases

Approximately 15 years after the human genome was first sequenced, researchers have discovered hundreds of associations between genetic variations and specific diseases and disorders shared among individuals. But to date, very few researchers have fully explored how correlations between genes and disease may be different in women and men.

“Many human traits and diseases have sex or gender differences, and many diseases have a significant genetic component,” said Hongyu Zhao, the Ira V. Hiscock Professor of Biostatistics at Yale School of Medicine. “However, most analyses of genetic data assume the same effect for both women and men or use a methodology that is not calibrated to detect potential sex differences.”

Dr. Zhao and his team are now building upon new statistical methods they have developed to detect such differences. For example, the published results in the literature suggest sex differences in the genetic basis for Alzheimer’s disease, an area he is eager to pursue further. His work will seek to better define which areas of the genome are contributing to Alzheimer’s disease differently in women and men and will potentially identify new genes involved in Alzheimer’s disease for further study. By better understanding first and foremost which genes contribute to Alzheimer’s disease, researchers will be better able to understand how these genes are functioning in women and men, and ultimately, use this insight to inform treatment or prevention strategies.

Filed Under: Research/Study


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