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This Week in Nature: Jan 2, 2014

In Nature, researchers from Harvard Medical School report on the identification of new genetic variants for rheumatoid arthritis based on the analysis of the genomes of more than 100,000 European and Asian individuals. In the genome-wide association study meta-analysis of nearly 30,000 people with the RA and more than 70,000 controls, the scientists discovered 42 novel risk loci for the disease, and identified 98 biological candidate genes across the 101 risk loci that have thus far been identified. Notably, several of the genes are targets of approved RA therapies, while some are targets for drugs for unrelated conditions.

Also in Nature, Harvard and Massachusetts Institute of Technology investigations describe the discovery of a genetic variant that may increase the risk of developing type II diabetes in Latin Americans. In a genome-wide association study, the researchers focused exclusively on Mexicans and other Latin Americans, unlike other studies that examined diverse populations. The variant uncovered exists in about 50 percent of Native Americans and 10 percent of East Asians, but is rare in Europeans and Africans. It is believed to alter lipid metabolism and may be the reason for the disparity in type II diabetes between these populations.