Michigan State University has created a DNA tool which can help measure height of people with accuracy and also predict the risk of major illnesses like cancer and heart disease. The algorithm, based on genomes of an individual, builds predictors for height, level of education and bone density. Leading the study is Stephen Hsu who said that the applications of the tool are not just limited to these 3 outcomes. Many other serious traits and complex ailments like breast cancer, diabetes and heart diseases might be predicted by using this tool. The medical practice of precision health will be greatly aided by this new DNA tool. Doctors and physicians will be able to intervene early and stop the spread of diseases.
Machine learning was used to analyze the total genetic makeup of around 500,000 adults in the UK. The research was published in Genetics in the month of October. Validation tests showed that heights were predicted pretty accurately. Although educational levels and bone density weren’t as accurate, they were good enough to understand if one would suffer from osteoporosis or struggle in academics at school. Usual genetic testing gives results based on a particular change in an individual’s chromosomes or genes. But this new tool considers tens of thousands of genomic variations and constructs a predictor built on those alterations.
Health information was taken from the UK Biobank and the algorithm was put to work. DNA of every individual was evaluated and the computers were taught to single out the specific differences. Hsu and his team will keep striving to better the algorithms and look into more diverse data sets. This will help in validating the techniques further and mapping out genetic architecture of various health risks and traits. As computing power increases and DNA sequencing becomes cheaper, such works can be achieved sooner. Hsu stated that the success of the tool could save numerous lives and lots of money in paying medical bills. The process could be as cheap as costing a person $50.