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Researchers discover new genes that determine height

The GIANT consortium (Genetic Investigation of Anthropometric Traits) is conducting the largest-ever study of genes related to height. So far, the Boston-area group has identified 423 genetic regions linked to stature.

The team, led by Dr. Joel Hirschhorn, found that a person's height does not come down to just one gene, but rather multiple genes that work together for processes like cell and bone growth. They studied the genomes of 250,000 people of different heights, and correlated those heights with each subject's genetics. During their research, the team confirmed things they already knew about, such as ties between skeletal growth and collagen mutations in people with medically short stature.

There were also some surprises, like finding out a gene that is involved in cell growth also affects skeletal functions. "It's a mix ranging from completely known things, to those that make sense to things that are completely surprising and things we don't even know what to think about them," Hirschhorn told Time.

The group determined gene areas that they want to further study in order to isolate genes that are responsible for height. Researchers hope that these findings will help them come up with new ways to treat medical conditions like gigantism.