New Genomic Database Impacts Health Research

Wednesday - 10/13/2010, 4:19pm EDT

A new digital database will help scientists understand how differences in DNA contribute to human health and disease.

The National Institutes of Health has launched the Database of Genomic Structural Variation. The database will help track large-scale variations in DNA discovered in healthy individuals as well as those affected with disorders such as autism and cancer.

In recent years, scientists have discovered that very large stretches of the human genome can be different in seemingly normal individuals. It had long been known that large-scale genomic changes existed, but it was thought that they were rare and usually led to disorders such as Down syndrome. It is now understood that such variations are relatively common. Understanding how they relate to individual characteristics and impact health is an important and active area of research.