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Most common diseases are caused by multiple genetic and environmental factors. In the last 2 years, genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have identified polymorphisms that are associated with risk to common disease, but the effect of any one risk allele is typically small. By combining information from many risk variants, will it be possible to predict accurately each individual person's genetic risk for a disease? In this review we consider the lessons from GWAS and the implications for genetic risk prediction to common disease. We conclude that with larger GWAS sample sizes or by combining studies, accurate prediction of genetic risk will be possible, even if the causal mutations or the mechanisms by which they affect susceptibility are unknown.

Original publication




Journal article


Curr Opin Genet Dev

Publication Date





257 - 263


Biomarkers, Disease, Genetic Predisposition to Disease, Genome-Wide Association Study, Humans, Individuality, Prognosis, Risk