Found new genes that define facial features of a person

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It is no secret that our genes completely and completely define us as a unit of a species – including the most subtle nuances regarding how we will look throughout our lives. Today, a team of researchers from Catholic University of Leuven in collaboration with colleagues from the United States unveiled new interesting data on which genes are responsible for the formation of facial features of a person. An article with this new interesting finding has already been published in the journal Nature Genetics, where the project team leader, Peter Claes, explained the methodology, the use of new genes in the search, and some other nuances related to the study.

Previously, geneticists also tried to identify which genes exactly determine the facial features of a person, selecting selective facial features – such as the distance between the eyes and the width of the mouth – and then trying to trace the relationship between these features and genes, actually trying them at random. However, the Belgian team of geneticists from the Catholic University of Leuven was able to develop a new methodology in the search for such genes, which is based on the modular separation technology.

Its essence lies in the fact that specialists artificially “divide” 3D images of faces and DNA samples of the owners of these individuals into many smaller units (modules) – thus, specialists can more accurately and quickly search for the relationship between certain facial features and their defining genes in DNA. Specialists said they were able to find 15 new genes linked at the so-called genomic loci.

These loci are activated even at the time of the formation of the fetus in the maternal womb, which indicates the fact that further these subordinate genes change depending on their recessive-dominant nature of development. For example, scientists were able to point out the presence of seven new genes responsible for the shape of the nose, which in itself is a very valuable find for anthropologists and those who study humans as a biological species. This small breakthrough can expand further due to its use in applied anthropology and forensics, because face reconstruction is even easier!

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