Scientists Find Genes That Determine Height

If you are unhappy with your height, you can blame your genes. In the biggest genetic study of height-related genes, scientists found out that there are hundreds of genetic regions that affect the height.

The GIANT (Genetic Investigation of Anthropometric Traits) consortium found out that while better diets make us taller than our ancestors, it just accounts for a fifth of the growth spurt. Four-fifths is linked to genes that are passed down from generation to generation.

In the study, scientists studied the DNA of about 250,000 Europeans. They also checked more than two million genetic factors. Professor Tim Frayling from the Medical School of Exeter said that height is determined by the different variations in DNA sequences.

“It’s common knowledge that people born to tall parents are more likely to be tall themselves. Most of this is down to the variations in our DNA sequence that we inherit from our parents – the different versions of all our genes.”

Scientists were also surprised to discover some genetic regions that they never thought would be related to the height of a person. One of which is a gene that has always been known to be related to cell growth, but not skeletal functions. Dr. Joel Hirschhorn, the leader of the GIANT consortium at Boston Children’s Hospital, Broad Institute of MIT, and the Harvard Medical School, said that height is a combination of things.

“It’s a mix ranging from completely known things, to those that make sense to things that are completely surprising and things we don’t even know what to think about them.”

With the new discovery, scientists are now on the first step towards “fulfilling a scientific curiosity.” Knowing the factors that affect height can also lead to better treatment of diseases that have to do with height, including osteoporosis.

“It’s also a step forward towards a test that may reassure parents worried that their child is not growing as well as they’d hoped – most of these children have probably simply inherited a big batch of ‘short genes.'”

The results of the study proves that the scientists are now far from what they identified before, which is the first common height gene. The advancement in the study is also because of the available technology today, where scientists have bigger access to DNA data.

“These data sets are proving to be a genetic treasure trove which has enables us to shed light on height, and we expect to continue to make significant advances, both in this field and in other human traits.”

[Image via CNN]