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Researchers identify causal variants in blood cells and tie them with genetic mechanisms

March 13, 2019 / Bob Yirka

A team of researchers affiliated with multiple institutions in and around the Boston area in the U.S. and one in Finland has identified hundreds of possible causal variants associated with blood cell traits and tied them to important blood-related mechanisms. The team sought to learn more about genetic variants in blood cells that are responsible for blood mechanisms such as which genes are responsible for regulating the number of white blood cells, and which regulate the optimal number of white blood cells for an individual. To that end, they conducted a genome-wide association study (GWAS) by accessing data in the UK Biobank, which provided information regarding blood cell characteristics such as hemoglobin levels, white cell count and platelet count. The data represent health information for approximately 115,000 people in the United Kingdom. The traits the team focused on centered around those involved in hemopoiesis (production of blood cells and platelets), which occurs in bone m...