Houston: The Indian American population
of Houston, with origins in Gujarat, is one of the seven
additional population groups added to the third phase of the
HapMap human genetic mapping project that aims to find genetic
variants associated with complex diseases.
The new map, the third generation of what has been
dubbed the HapMap (haplotype map) of the human genome,
includes data from an additional seven global populations,
bringing the total number to 11 populations, the National
Human Genome Research Institute said in a statement.
One of those population groups lived in Houston and
was made up of people who came from the western Indian state
of Gujarat or who were descendants of people from the state.
The increased number of samples allow detection of
variants that are much rarer than could be found by the
All humans are more than 99 per cent the same at the
genetic level, but the small fraction of genetic material that
varies among people can help explain individual susceptibility
to disease, responses to drugs or reactions to environmental
factors, researchers say.
HapMap leaders wanted people who donated samples to
be used in the DNA analysis to understand the project and how
the samples would be used, said Dr Richard Sharp, a former
Baylor College of Medicine ethicist who is now at the
Sharp and his colleagues approached Indian-American
community leaders in Houston about how best to set up a sample
"In the United States, there is a lot written about
concerns racial and ethnic minorities have about genetic
research," he said.
Many people point to past abuses such as the infamous
Tuskegee syphilis project, in which the health of black men
with syphilis was monitored and recorded long after they could
have received treatment for their disease.
"They saw none of this hesitance in the population of
Indian-Americans living in Houston," said Sharp.
"We saw enthusiasm for genetics among this group. The
generated HapMap provides an important foundation for studies
aiming to find genetic variation related to human diseases,"
NHGRI director Eric D Green said.
"It is now routinely used by researchers as a valuable
reference tool in our quest to use genomics for improving
The NHGRI is part of the National Institutes of
Health, which provided major funding for the HapMap Project.