Quest to find 'Olympic genes' comes up short—so far

| | February 28, 2018

In 2014, the former Soviet nation of Uzbekistan announced a plan that it hoped would give it a leg up in future Olympic games: It would DNA test Uzbek children to determine their athletic potential.

Rustam Mukhamedov, a scientist at Uzbekistan's Institute of Bioorganic Chemistry, had been studying the genes of champion Uzbek athletes for two years. And, he said at the time, his team was close to zeroing in on a set of 50 genes that could identify future Olympians.

The trouble is, in 2018, the answer to which of the many thousands of genes that make up the human genome make those elite athletes so strong and fast and powerful is still basically, well, a shrug.

[W]hile it's not currently possible to use DNA to predict which sports you're biologically suited for, or how to best nurse an injury, advancements in science could very well mean that DNA plays a role in how athletes train in the future.

Small studies have pinpointed genes that could make training and injury recovery more efficient. A mutation of the gene COL1A1, which assists in collagen production, for example, seems to result in a decreased risk of ACL rupture among athletes.

No research on those 50 champion athlete genes has ever been published. And this Olympic season, Uzbekistan only has two athletes competing. So far, neither of them have won any medals.

Read full, original post: The Search For The Olympian Gene

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