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The Problem(s) with GWAS

There is a problem with GWAS, says Mike the Mad Biologist. The "missing heritability" issue — in which identified genetic variation only accounts for a small portion of the estimated genetic variation for a certain trait — has always been a problem. In addition, GWAS also have problems characterizing traits accurately, Mike adds. For example, in studying heart disease, researchers doing GWAS have to be careful to accurately assess traits of interest, since not all heart diseases are alike. But, he real issue, and one that is rarely discussed, is the environmental component of heritability, Mike says, adding, "in fact, to me, the absence of accurate environmental characterization is potentially a huge problem for GWAS." Until researchers characterize the environment more rigorously, they must treat many of the heritability estimates of GWAS as "speculative," he says.

The Scan

Genetic Risk Factors for Hypertension Can Help Identify Those at Risk for Cardiovascular Disease

Genetically predicted high blood pressure risk is also associated with increased cardiovascular disease risk, a new JAMA Cardiology study says.

Circulating Tumor DNA Linked to Post-Treatment Relapse in Breast Cancer

Post-treatment detection of circulating tumor DNA may identify breast cancer patients who are more likely to relapse, a new JCO Precision Oncology study finds.

Genetics Influence Level of Depression Tied to Trauma Exposure, Study Finds

Researchers examine the interplay of trauma, genetics, and major depressive disorder in JAMA Psychiatry.

UCLA Team Reports Cost-Effective Liquid Biopsy Approach for Cancer Detection

The researchers report in Nature Communications that their liquid biopsy approach has high specificity in detecting all- and early-stage cancers.