Evolutionary quirk: Humans are defined by ‘singular vulnerability’ to heart attacks

unnamed file

There are many things that set us humans apart from other species: large brains, bipedalism, a predilection for puns. But we’re also defined by our singular vulnerability to cardiovascular disease.

A recent study by researchers from the University of California, San Diego, suggests that a mutation during the lower paleolithic period, which began around 3.3 million years ago, could be the culprit. This single genetic alteration inactivated a gene called CMAH, leaving early humans without the mechanisms that seem to protect other mammals from heart disease.

Namely, the loss of the gene made our forebears deficient in molecules called sialic acids. In the study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the researchers genetically modified mice to resemble humans in the deficiency of a sialic acid called Neu5Gc. In the modified mice, they found that rates of atherosclerosis — the buildup of fats and cholesterol on artery walls that leads to heart attack — had doubled compared to normal mice. Those that ate red meat meat saw their risk compounded even more.

Related article:  Genetic mutation blamed for mysterious heart condition killing young members of Amish community

Those results offer new insight into the origin of a disease that claims a quarter of all lives in the United States.

Read full, original post: Did a Single Genetic Mutation Make Humans the Heart Attack Species?

Outbreak
Outbreak Daily Digest
Biotech Facts & Fallacies
Talking Biotech
Genetics Unzipped
Infographic: What are mRNA COVID-19 vaccines and how do they work?

Infographic: What are mRNA COVID-19 vaccines and how do they work?

As of 1 December 2020, thirteen vaccines have reached the final stage of testing: where they are being given to ...
favicon

Environmental Working Group: EWG challenges safety of GMOs, food pesticide residues

Known by some as the "Environmental Worrying Group," EWG lobbies ...
m hansen

Michael Hansen: Architect of Consumers Union ongoing anti-GMO campaign

Michael K. Hansen (born 1956) is thought by critics to be ...
News on human & agricultural genetics and biotechnology delivered to your inbox.
glp menu logo outlined

Newsletter Subscription

Optional. Mail on special occasions.
Send this to a friend