NHL players ‘researchers’ could become genetic wizards, study finds
Genetic wizards are scientists who work with genetics to make life-saving or life-threatening discoveries, according to a new study by the University of British Columbia and the University at Buffalo.
“The potential is that you could become a genetic wizard,” said Michael Klimov, a professor in the University’s Department of Biological Sciences and a co-author of the study.
The study examined how the genetic abilities of NHL players were compared to that of NHLers in the general population, and found that NHL players have significantly greater genetic variability than the general public.
“We know that the NHL players tend to have the higher genetic variability,” said Klimo, whose research focuses on the role of the human genome in determining the strength and endurance of muscles and bones.
Klimov said there’s a lot of speculation about how genetic factors are affected in the NHL.
“I think a lot more research needs to be done to understand exactly what happens in the human body when the body is under stress,” he said.
“But if the goal is to make better sportsmen, that’s the next step.”
Klimo and his co-authors were able to compare the genetic profiles of NHL and NHL players using data from a genetic database known as GenBank.
The data was collected from a pool of more than 14,000 NHL players and players in other sports over the course of a 10-year period.
“Our study found that there’s no single genetic variant that causes the variation in hockey players,” Klimos said.
“What we found was that they all have very similar genetic signatures.”
The team used a gene-sequence analysis program called Genome-Wide Association Analysis to look at more than 1,000 genes associated with various health conditions.
The team looked for regions that were associated with specific conditions, such as a specific gene for an immune system response or a protein that helps to form collagen, a protein found in bones.
“There’s a big body of literature that’s been accumulating on this,” said Dr. David M. Stelter, the lead author of the new study.
“What we have discovered is that there are genes that we can identify that are associated with a range of diseases and they’re all associated with some of the same pathways and pathways that we’ve identified.”
While genetic wizards could play a vital role in finding new drugs and treatments for some genetic diseases, they could also become a liability in the public health arena.
“It’s the risk of these genetic wizards becoming the ones to make decisions about how people should be treated,” said Stelver, who is the executive director of the International Genetic Medicine Association.
“They could end up being part of the solution, but it could also be detrimental to our public health.”
Stelver said he and his colleagues have no plans to stop using GenBank to study the genetics of NHL hockey players.
“My hope is that it will be used as a resource for the future,” Stelster said.