Researchers have found that Inuit from northern Quebec are genetically distinct from any present-day population in the world, and say studying the genes of minority Indigenous populations in Canada can help deliver better health care to these populations.
In a study published [July 22] in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers mapped the complete genetic profile of Inuit in the Nunavik region — what they claim is a first.
The study found Nunavik Inuit may have genetic components derived from ancient Arctic Indigenous populations.
“Paleo-Eskimo [genetic] ancestry is almost extinct in all current populations. But Nunavik Inuit probably have the largest component of an ancestry that could be likely derived from [the] Paleo-Eskimo[s].”
[Primary author and researcher Sirui] Zhou said while looking at the exonic regions of the Nunavik Inuit’s genome — “the most important regions” which are responsible for coding proteins — she found about 130 unique genetic variations.
Zhou said knowing the genetic makeup of Indigenous groups could provide better health care for those populations — like helping communities screen people for diseases they’re at higher risk for genetically.
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