Genes from Neanderthals
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It's possible a genetic footprint of Neanderthals is making some people sicker from COVID-nineteen. Our human cousin became extinct during the Stone Age fifty thousand years ago but had bred with modern humans.

To see if the genes we inherited make us sicker, scientists in this study compared the DNA of severely ill COVID patients with Neanderthal DNA. They were shocked to find a segment of the patients' DNA matched those from a Neanderthal's remains found in Croatia. The genes are on chromosome three which half of South Asians and sixteen percent of Europeans possess.

Researchers focused on this segment of chromosomes when they studied how genetics can worsen COVID-nineteen infection. They found that variations in the genes here did made people sicker. This correlates with people of Bangladeshi origin in the United Kingdom having twice the risk of dying from COVID-nineteen.

But this same variation may protect the Bangladeshi against other pathogens. For example, certain genes we've inherited from Neanderthals increase our pain sensitivity while others protect women from miscarriages. The author of this study believes the Neanderthal genes are responsible for one hundred thousand COVID deaths so far.

It's unclear how, but researchers know that one gene is involved in our immune response and one affects how the virus is able to invade human cells. Knowing which gene variants make people sicker can help scientists learn about the virus and help more people survive.

For more information…

Neanderthal genes increase risk of serious Covid-19, study claims
Strand of DNA inherited by modern humans is linked to likelihood of falling severely ill...

The major genetic risk factor for severe COVID-19 is inherited from Neanderthals
Here we show that the risk is conferred by a genomic segment of around 50 kilobases in size that is inherited from Neanderthals and is carried by around 50% of people in south Asia and around 16% of people in Europe...

The Stone Age
During the Stone Age, humans shared the planet with a number of now-extinct hominin relatives, including Neanderthals and Denisovans...