New Study Says Genetics Influences Homosexuality

Article excerpt

Scientists have found new evidence that a gene inherited from mothers helps influence whether a man is homosexual, bolstering a study that made headlines in 1993.

"Our result says that genes are involved in male sexual orientation, although they certainly do not determine a person's sexual orientation," said Dean Hamer, an author of the study.

"There probably are other biological factors like hormones, for example, and other variables we simply don't know anything about yet."

The study follows others that have suggested a biological influence in sexual orientation, but scientists still cannot explain what makes a person homosexual, heterosexual or bisexual.

The latest study does not identify a specific gene. But like Hamer's 1993 study, it suggests such a gene resides in a particular region of the X chromosome, one of the microscopic thread-like structures that carry genes. Men inherit the X chromosome from their mothers.

Hamer said there was no way to know how strongly the gene influences the development of homosexuality in men. Researchers looked for such an effect in women but found no evidence for it.

Hamer, a researcher at the National Cancer Institute, reports the work in the November issue of the journal Nature Genetics with colleagues at the institute, the University of Colorado and the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research in Cambridge, Mass.

Dr. Elliot Gershon, chief of the clinical neurogenetics branch of the National Institute of Mental Health, said the work does not prove such a gene exists in the chromosome segment, but it is suggestive. …

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