Gay brothers could hold key to finding gay gene

Troy Espera | September 29, 2006

CHICAGO — Researchers at Evanston Northwestern Healthcare Research Institute in Illinois are fast at work, trying to identify one or more genes that help determine sexual orientation with the help of gay brothers.

According to the Chicago Sun-Times, the Molecular Genetic Study of Sexual Orientation is recruiting 1,000 pairs of gay brothers to donate blood samples for DNA analysis.

"We hope our study will dispel mythologies and ignorance about homosexuality,� Dr. Alan Sanders, a Northwestern University psychiatrist who is directing the five-year study, told the Sun-Times.

Timothy Murphy, a University of Illinois at Chicago bioethicist and paid consultant to the study, told the Sun-Times that if science can show that homosexuality is a biological trait, like eye color, the public likely would be more accepting of gays.

But some gays are wary. They fear discovering gay genes could lead to efforts to "cure" homosexuality, or to prenatal tests for gay genes.

Researchers say that's not their intent.

According to Chicago�s WBBM News Radio 780, past studies show that homosexuality tends to run in families. While 2 – 4 percent of all men are gay, 8 – 12 percent of brothers of gay men are gay. Studies have proven, that a higher percentage of identical twins will both be gay than a fraternal set of twins. However, despite the fact identical twins share the exact same genes, it is not unusual for one twin to be gay and the other twin to be straight. Thus adding to the mystery Northwestern doctors seek to unravel.

Possible environmental factors include family upbringing, exposure to certain hormones during pregnancy and having older brothers.

But Greg and Phil Scollan of Chicago, two gay brothers who are participating in the study, told the Sun-Times that there could be benefits to the research. It might "make people re-evaluate their thoughts on homosexuality," Phil Scollan said. – Issued by Gay Link Content

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