2% of us carry Neanderthal genes. We are at greater risk for COVID

image e neanderthal dna

Scientists have claimed that a strand of DNA that triples the risk of developing severe Covid-19 was passed on from Neanderthals to modern humans. The genetic endowment, a legacy from more than 50,000 years ago, has left about 16% of Europeans and half of South Asians today carrying these genes.

The origins of the risk genes came to light when scientists in Sweden and Germany compared the DNA of very sick Covid-19 patients with that from Neanderthals and their mysterious sister group, the Denisovans. The stretch of DNA that makes patients more likely to fall seriously ill closely matched that collected from a Neanderthal in Croatia.

“I almost fell off my chair because the segment of DNA was exactly the same as in the Neanderthal genome,” Hugo Zeberg, an assistant professor at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, told the Guardian.

Related article:  New analysis of Dead Sea scrolls reveals minerals not typically from region
Follow the latest news and policy debates on agricultural biotech and biomedicine? Subscribe to our newsletter.

Zeberg and his co-author, Svante Pääbo, director of the Max Planck Institute of Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, suspect the Neanderthal genes have persisted in modern humans because they were once beneficial, perhaps helping to fight off other infections. Only now – when faced with a new infection – has their downside been exposed.

It is unclear how the genes may worsen Covid-19, but one gene plays a role in the immune response and another has been linked to the mechanism the virus uses to invade human cells.

Read the original post

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