Although the candidate gene approach is useful when viable candidates can be identified based on previous research, the etiology of many disorders is not understood sufficiently well to identify likely candidate genes. In the absence of an a priori reason to examine specific candidate genes, family-based linkage analysis can be used to screen broad sections of the genome to identify regions that may contain a gene that increases susceptibility to a disorder, and association analyses can be used to narrow further the region that contains a gene that influences the trait or disorder. Linkage and association analysis take advantage of the fact that genes that are close together on a chromosome tend to be transmitted together across many generations. Although these methods typically do not identify a gene with functional significance for the disorder of interest, they facilitate the identification of smaller regions of the genome that may be fruitful targets for further focused studies.
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