Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Red-carded for Bad DNA?

ESPN reported two weeks ago that an unnamed Premier League soccer club has done DNA testing on its players to determine whether any of them are genetically prone to injury. From the story:

"Professor Marios Kambouris, assistant professor at Yale University School of Medicine, carried out the ground-breaking work following research into tendons and common football injuries by a group of British scientists. The study profiled more than 100 genetic mutations linked to an increased chance of injuries such as ruptured tendons. Professor Kambouris said: 'I have no idea which players they were but there were good genes in there, things which would positively affect their performance, such as their ability to have better aerobic respiration, which would give them more stamina on the pitch.'"

Obviously there's the potential here for testing to help clubs prevent some of their stars from incurring injuries; for clubs to use testing to recruit players with "good genes;" and for clubs to decline to recruit even excellent players with high genetic risk for injury. And there's the potential for testing, as it becomes cheaper, to trickle down to the amateur and collegiate levels of play. "Sorry kid, you've got the heart and the moves, but you just don't have the genes."

Hat tip to Yale's excellent Molecular Anthropology Blog

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