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New study on 'gay gene'

26 April 1999
By BioNews
Appeared in BioNews 5

A study investigating the genetic basis of homosexuality has failed to support research published six years ago suggesting the existence of a 'gay gene'. A team of scientists led by Dean Hamer, an American Aids researcher, caused controversy in 1993 when it published results of a study claiming to have found a link between male homosexuality and a section of the chromosome called Xq28, inherited from the mother. But several subsequent years of research attempting to isolate the gene proved fruitless and a larger-scale study carried out by George Rice and George Ebers of the University of Western Ontario in Canada has cast serious doubt on the original research.

The Canadian group reports in the journal Science that it failed to find a connection between the genetic marker that Dr Hamer had claimed to have found and homosexuality, which should have emerged because their study was significantly larger than Dr Hamer's.

The Canadian scientists say it is unclear why their results were so discrepant from the original study but point out that their data do not support the existence of a gene that strongly influences sexual orientation. Previous research has claimed to have found genes for schizophrenia, alcoholism and even aggression, but these claims have largely been disputed or abandoned.

Doubt cast on 'gay gene'
The Daily Telegraph |  23 April 1999
Male homosexuality: absence of linkage to microsatellite markers at Xq28
Science |  23 April 1999
Research casts doubt on 'gay gene' theory
Washington Post |  23 April 1999
The celebrated theory that never made sense
The Observer |  25 April 1999
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