Natural selection weeding out Alzheimer’s, asthma

New York, September 11

Natural selection is causing gene mutations linked to conditions like Alzheimer’s disease, asthma and heart disease to be weeded out, a study suggests.

Researchers at Columbia University in the US found that sets of genetic mutations that predispose people to heart disease, high cholesterol and asthma, also appear less often in people who lived longer and whose genes are therefore more likely to be passed down and spread through the population.

“It is a subtle signal, but we find genetic evidence that natural selection is happening in modern human populations,” said Joseph Pickrell, an evolutionary geneticist at Columbia.

New favourable traits evolve when genetic mutations arise that offer a survival edge. As the survivors of each generation pass on those beneficial mutations, the mutations and their adaptive traits become more common in the general population, researchers said.

Researchers analysed the genomes of 60,000 people of European ancestry in the US and 150,000 people in Britain.

In women over 70 years, researchers saw a drop in the frequency of the ApoE4 gene linked to Alzheimer’s.

Researchers saw a similar drop, starting in middle age, in the frequency of a mutation in the CHRNA3 gene associated with heavy smoking in men.

The found just two common mutations across the entire human genome that heavily influence survival.

This suggests that selection has purged similar variants from the population, even those that act later in life like the ApoE4 and CHRNA3 genes, researchers said.

“It may be that men who don’t carry these harmful mutations can have more children, or that men and women who live longer can help with their grandchildren, improving their chance of survival,” said Molly Przeworski, an evolutionary biologist at Columbia.

They then examined sets of mutations associated with 42 common traits, from height to Body Mass Index (BMI) and determined what value of the trait they would predict based on their genetics, and whether it influenced survival.

Researchers found that a predisposition for high cholesterol and LDL “bad” cholesterol, high BMI, and heart disease was linked to shorter life spans. To a lesser extent, a predisposition for asthma was also linked to earlier death.

They also found that those genetically predisposed to delayed puberty and child-bearing lived longer - a one-year puberty delay lowered the death rate by three to four per cent in both men and women; a one-year childbearing delay lowered the death rate by six per cent in women.

The study was published in the journal PLOS Biology. — PTI

India News - Health

Malaysia Allows Generics for Gilead’s Hepatitis C Drug for Which India Issued Patent

Malaysia Allows Generics for Gilead’s Hepatitis C Drug for Which India Issued Patent
(The Wire) 11 hours 32 min ago
India had first rejected a patent for this breakthrough drug which sells at $1000 per pill but later overruled its own decision and granted Gilead a patent for it. Credit: Reuters The Malaysian...

Sea Buckthorn Comes to the Rescue of Mountain Villages in Pakistan

Sea Buckthorn Comes to the Rescue of Mountain Villages in Pakistan
(The Wire) 1 day 21 hours ago
“Sea buckthorn is a medicine for at least 70 diseases and has been used by villagers for centuries.” https://i0.wp.com/thewire.in/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/Sea-Buckthorn.jpg?fit=300%2C200&ssl=1...

Here`s how writing about your feelings helps you reduce stress

Here`s how writing about your feelings helps you reduce stress
(Mid-Day) 4 days 13 hours ago
If the anxiety of performing an upcoming task is giving you stress, simply writing about your feelings may help you perform the task more efficiently, suggests new research. The research - published...

Infants Are Dying in Nashik – and There’s a Host of Systemic Issues to Blame

Infants Are Dying in Nashik – and There’s a Host of Systemic Issues to Blame
(The Wire) 4 days 13 hours ago
From inadequate infrastructure in local hospitals to accredited social health activists workers not reaching women in the tribal belt, the health system in the area is full of gaps. Three babies in...

We Are Right in Mourning Gorakhpur but We Must Learn From It Too

We Are Right in Mourning Gorakhpur but We Must Learn From It Too
(The Wire) 6 days 21 hours ago
When we address the question of reform in public systems, can we not also address the question of reform in human nature? State governments have to invest in setting up more nursing and medical...

How Many Times Did Anitha Need to Prove Her Merit to an Undemocratic Education System?

How Many Times Did Anitha Need to Prove Her Merit to an Undemocratic Education System?
(The Wire) 1 week 1 day ago
As elite scientific institutions ignore socio-economic realities to bypass reservation in the name of quality, students from marginalised backgrounds continue to suffer. Students during their protest...

Blue Whale Is a Red Herring – Let’s Talk About Suicides, Shall We?

Blue Whale Is a Red Herring – Let’s Talk About Suicides, Shall We?
(The Wire) 1 week 2 days ago
Up until the Indian authorities started panicking about the ‘Blue Whale’ challenge, there was a total absence of a public policy response to this ‘epidemic’ of suicides. ‘Blue Whale’ is an internet...

Ensure No More Protests Over NEET Exam: SC to Tamil Nadu

Ensure No More Protests Over NEET Exam: SC to Tamil Nadu
(The Wire) 1 week 4 days ago
A bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra issued notice to the state, asking it to maintain law and order and ensure that protests over the death of the 17-year-old Dalit girl do not disrupt daily...

Country’s First ‘Nutrition Atlas’ Comes Online

Country’s First ‘Nutrition Atlas’ Comes Online
(The Wire) 1 week 4 days ago
It provides information and data on the nutritional status of population groups at national and state levels, along with an overview of nutrition-related deficiencies, disorders and prevalence levels...