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Last Updated: Thursday, 23 December, 2004, 09:32 GMT
Study searches 'ill health genes'
Genetic testing
Research will identify risks of developing diseases like diabetes
Scotland's five medical schools are joining forces in a 4.4m project examining genetic diseases.

The ground-breaking Genetic Health Initiative is being funded by the Scottish Executive.

Researchers will assess predisposition to heart disease, diabetes, stroke, osteoporosis and mental health.

The programme will focus on individuals and their close relatives to identify those at risk of developing disease and help create preventative measures.

It will also determine how much ill health is inherited and the extent to which other factors influence health, such as lifestyle.

During the three-year study, the researchers will link anonymous information on the lifestyle and healthcare history of participants with genetic profiles.

'Exciting opportunity'

About 50,000 individuals, aged between 35 and 55, will be taking part, with researchers hoping to establish patterns of health and disease within families.

The study will focus on diseases which have a major impact on health in Scotland.

Deputy Health Minister Rhona Brankin said: "This investment will place Scotland at the forefront of research in this area and could potentially bring long term benefits to the Scottish people and the world at large."

Project co-ordinator Dr Blair Smith, from Aberdeen University, said: "It's an exciting opportunity for collaboration between many different scientific and medical disciplines with great potential to modernise medical care.

"It's the next exciting step following the mapping of the Human Genome and will put Scotland at the forefront of medical research."

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