Interest in using polygenic scores to make predictions is skyrocketing in many areas of life. For example, researchers are exploring the use of these scores to predict the onset of complex diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer. It has also been proposed that polygenic scores could be used to predict educational attainment (Lee et al., 2018), and social behaviors such as loneliness (Abdellaoui et al., 2018) and same-sex sexual behavior (Ganna et al., 2019). However, even when the association between a polygenic score and a certain phenotype is statistically significant, this does not always guarantee the polygenic score will have a strong predictive power.
Most phenotypes are the result of multiple genetic variations, which are found by screening the genome of populations and identifying which variants appear more frequently in individuals with a specific trait. Polygenic scores are then calculated for each person based on how many of these genetic variations are present in their genome. This score indicates how likely a person is to develop the phenotype of interest.
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