Five Genes For Face Shape Identified

Researchers have discovered five genes that determine our facial shape and this could one day provide valuable information for both doctors and crime fighters.

Image published in the journal PLoS Genetics shows MRI scans of subject faces and the five identified genes.

A study involving almost 10,000 individuals was recently published in the journal PloS Genetics and could open the door to a variety of uses. In the past virtually nothing was known about the genes responsible for our dimples, foreheads and ears and how they come together.

Lead author from the Erasmus University Medical Center in Rotterdam, Manfred Kayser said, “There are exciting first results that mark the beginning of the genetic understanding of human facial morphology. Perhaps some time it will be possible to draw a phantom portrait solely from his or her DNA.”

Researchers used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of subjects together with portrait photographs to map the various facial landmarks to extrapolate facial distances.

This was followed by what is known as a genome-wide association study, which is designed to search for genetic variations that occur more commonly in people with certain facial types.

As the research progressed Kayser and his colleagues were able to indentify five candidate genes associated with different facial shapes. These associations increase the liklihood that a certain face shape can be estimated.

The research is still in its infancy and actual projections of what someone looks like simply from a DNA sample is a long way off. But the research may eventually lead to advancements in forensics as biological evidence left behind by the perpetrator could presumably lead to a reconstruction of his or her face.

But maybe even more promising is the possibility that we may eventually understand and perhaps prevent facial birth defects, growth abnormalities, and disfigurements. For now we continue to provide orthognathic surgical care and compensate for these issues surgically.

Tags: , ,