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Researchers Probe Obesity’s Complex Roots

December 6, 2018

Biospecimen Cells for Obesity Research

How do genes affect obesity? And how do environmental factors affect obesity-relevant genes? These are unsettled questions, but researchers like epidemiology professor Kari North, Ph.D., are working on answers.

Last year, North and a colleague led research that found that smoking may increase genetic susceptibility to being generally overweight and reduces genetic effects on body fat distribution – potentially leading to smokers having larger waistlines.

The University of North Carolina researchers identified 23 novel genetic loci that influence body mass index (BMI), waist circumference and waist-to-hip ratio. Nine of those appear to have different effects in smokers, including genes involved in appetite and glucose regulation and metabolism of macronutrients.

Large volumes of data needed to generate disease insights

To arrive at these findings, researchers used genomic data from 51,080 current smokers and 190,178 nonsmokers.

As these numbers suggest, it often takes very large volumes of data to drive new insights about disease, its genetic factors, and the hidden interactions between genes and the environment.

At iSpecimen, we’re acutely aware that medical data in any volume often originates with a biospecimen, whether a blood sample, swab, tissue sample or cells. For medicine to continue on its march toward more insights, researchers will require more data from more biospecimens to be collected from more individuals. Among the individuals from whom data is needed are racial/ethnic populations that have been underrepresented in databases but who display persistent health disparities around obesity.

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The value of biospecimens that include abundant data

Our mission is to connect researchers with the specimens and data they need from the populations they wish to study. The millions of richly characterized human biospecimens we distribute include a wealth of data including:

  • Patient demographics, including age, gender, ethnicity, race, and geography.
  • Medical conditions covering a wide variety of diagnoses from oncology and cardiology to autoimmune and infectious diseases, as well as healthy normal.
  • Medications, representing a wide range of medication classes, with outcomes data.
  • Medical procedures covering a wide spectrum of treatments.
  • And more.

Access millions of biospecimens and associated data

To browse stored specimens, visit the iSpecimen Marketplace. There is no cost to join and registration takes seconds. Advanced search functionality helps you find an exact specimen match from banked and clinical remnant inventories. Given our vast network of suppliers, if you are not able to locate the exact biospecimen match within the Marketplace that your research requires, contact us directly or request a quote for precisely what you need. We should be able to rapidly source exactly what you need.

We hope your work yields valuable new data, and insights about diseases that help to improve quality of life for all of us.

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