Sunday, September 09, 2012

Life is complex, biologically as well as socially

Following up on my last post, here is something quoted from Deric Bownds' Mindblog:
(i)t is increasingly clear that most traits are influenced by many genes, and most genes influence many traits. For instance, about 80% of the variation in human height is accounted for by genetic variation. It would seem straightforward to find the responsible genes. But looking for them has revealed that the 180 loci with the largest effects together account for only about 10% of the phenotypic variation. 
Recent findings in medical genetics are more discouraging. Just a decade ago, hope was high that we would soon find the variations that account for highly heritable diseases, such as schizophrenia and autism. But scanning the entire genome has revealed that there are no common alleles with large effects on these diseases. Some say we should have known. Natural selection would, after all, tend to eliminate alleles that cause disease. But, thinking about the body as a machine aroused unrealistic hopes.

No comments: