As you will probably already know, we inherit most of our characteristics from our parents, including eye colour, hair colour etc. However as time goes on, scientists are discovering that genetic factors are involved in much more than we ever thought, including conditions like Alzheimer’s disease, brain cancer and diabetes. Recently in Reykjavik, Iceland, it has been found out that the parents age can influence mutations in their children and De Novo Mutations (DNM’s) are actually responsible for a large percentage of rare childhood diseases
Firstly, a genetic mutation is a random change in the base sequence of genetic material, and this change is only seen in the offspring, not parents. Using data from 14688 individuals, the origin of DNM’s was analyzed and through this, it was found that ‘the number of DNMs caused by the mothers increases by 0.37 with each year of age. In the case of DNMs influenced by fathers, their number increases by 1.51 per year, making paternal influence almost four times stronger.’
As well as this, it was also found that clustered gene mutations are more likely found on genome ‘hotspots’. These were more influenced on the mothers’s age and the DNM clusters from the mother lasted longer than one’s from the father.
The researchers next hope to try and work out the likelihood of children getting a mutation, and whether there is anyway of changing this likelihood.
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