Scientists see twins as the perfect laboratory to examine the impact of nature vs. nurture

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The intense interest in how genes affect our lives has inspired scientists around the world — including in the United States, the Netherlands, Denmark, China and Cuba — to create large national registries of twins. The largest of these, which has data on 85,000 pairs of Swedes, is being used to research allergies, cancer, dementia, cardiovascular disease and other topics.

In a 2016 study, University of Southern Denmark researchers looked at the epigenomes of 28 identical twins in which one had rheumatoid arthritis and the other didn’t. Smoking is a leading cause of the disease, and the researchers found that some of the smokers in the group had damaged DNA function in regions associated with inflammation and autoimmunity even long after they had stopped smoking. The findings also identified important biological markers that will help future research, says co-author Qihua Tan, a biostatistician who studies epigenetics in twins.

Period29. Sep 2018

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