Research ArticleMEDICAL GENOMICS

Quantifying prion disease penetrance using large population control cohorts

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Science Translational Medicine  20 Jan 2016:
Vol. 8, Issue 322, pp. 322ra9
DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aad5169

Share trumps rare

No longer just buzz words, “patient empowerment” and “data sharing” are enabling breakthrough research on rare genetic diseases. Although more than 100,000 genetic variants are believed to drive disease in humans, little is known about penetrance—the probability that a mutation will actually cause disease in the carrier. This conundrum persists because small sample sizes breed imperfect alliance estimates between mutations and disease risk. Now, a patient-turned-scientist joined with a large bioinformatics team to analyze vast amounts of shared data—from the Exome Aggregation Consortium and the 23andMe database—to provide insights into genetic-variant penetrance and possible treatment approaches for a rare, fatal genetic prion disease.

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