What a great article desribing a new paper published in Science, which describes how human population growth is throwing a wrench into simple models describing allele frequency and mutation rates in modern humans. It turns out we’re a complicated bunch, with our rapid growth and our spread out of urban centers giving us all more rare mutations than would be expected. And our complexity has consequences too:
The model they’ve (the research team) developed has some pretty significant implications both for current genomic research and for medicine. As far as research goes, the conclusion is pretty simple: even though we have more human genetic samples than ever before, most studies still haven’t been able to survey a large enough population to see the influence of the rapidly expanding human population. That’s beginning to change, so it’s important that the researchers who are doing this work use the appropriate math, or they’re going to have a hard time interpreting what they see.
So it turns out that it’s going to take a lot more work to get to the root causes of common disease than previously thought. We’re all so different and complex, it’s going to take a lot of genomes and better models to understand what our mutations say about us.