Researchers at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) have created a list of genetic “usual suspects” involved in disease, from a computational analysis of 635 datasets across around 27,000 genetic samples. According to the PNAS journal, the researchers found certain genes are so likely to be affected by any disease that when scientists compare gene activity of healthy cells with cells involved in disease, they can wrongly assume the gene is specifically connected to that disease – as opposed to just generally affected by diseases within the body. 

The genes which drive inflammation are one example of these biological processes. Such genes are very active in cancer patients as well as other conditions such as Alzheimer’s. Added into the CSHL list, this information helps researchers provide context and interpret such genes.

It is hoped that the new data will help scientists design better experiments and advance drug discovery in the future.