New techniques for scanning the human genome promise great advances in tracking the origins of disorders caused by multiple genes. However, it is clear from the studies presented in this overview that we are far from understanding the genetic basis of asthma and atopy and their interaction with the environment. It is also clear that agreement must be reached on definition of the phenotype and methods of ascertainment in order to carry out large multicentre collaborative studies. Positive findings need to be validated in different populations selected for the presence of the disease and then confirmed in a random population where the prevalence of asthma and atopy will also be expected to be significant.
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