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Differences in genes between men and women may account certain illnesses

July 10 , 2006

You don't have to be a scientist to know that men and women just don't see eye to eye, but it took a team of scientists to find out just how different the sexes are: the gender gap in our genes may be responsible for men being more prone to diseases such as Alzheimer's and attention deficit disorder, while women are more prone to ailments such as depression and lupus.

"Many more genes are expressed differently in males and females than previously suspected," says Dr. Art Arnold.

Researchers at the University of California Los Angeles found that thousands of genes behaved differently in the same organs of male and female mice. Humans and mice share 99 percent of their genes.

"In the liver, for example, about seventy-five percent of the genes measured were different in males than in females," says Dr. Arnold.

The study also showed significant differences in brain genes between the sexes and even sharper differences in fat cells. Female mice were shown to have higher rates of obesity than males, but males had more abdominal obesity, which is more dangerous.

The UCLA study could change the way we take our medicine. Just as there are different dosages for adults and children, we could see different dosages for men and women.

The research may help us understand why the same disease often strikes men and women differently, and one day help us find gender-specific cures.

Scientists say the reason for the gene difference in genders may lie in the difference in our hormones and the x and y chromosome. The study will be published in the August issue of "Genome Research."

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