Neanderthal DNA in Covid-19 patients can lead to severe outcomes: Study

Prashasti Awasthi Mumbai | Updated on October 01, 2020 Published on October 01, 2020

Covid patients with some remnant of Neanderthal DNA may end up in ventilation, says study published in Nature

A new study claimed that coronavirus positive patients with some remnant of Neanderthal DNA that crossed into the human genome around 60,000 years ago, can lead to further complications of symptoms of the virus.

Neanderthals are extinct species of human that was widely distributed in ice-age Europe between 120,000 and 35,000 years ago, with a receding forehead and prominent brow ridges.

Co-author Svante Paabo, director of the department of genetics at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, said in a statement: “It is striking that the genetic heritage from Neanderthals has such tragic consequences during the current pandemic.”

The study, published in the journal Nature revealed that the genetic coding passed on by the early Neanderthal predecessors can now make the coronavirus three times more deadly. People with such DNA may end up in ventilation.

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According to recent research by the Covid-19 Host Genetics Initiative, cited in the Agence France Presse, a genetic variant in a particular region of chromosome 3 — one of 23 chromosomes in the human genome — can lead to a more critical form of the infection from the coronavirus.

Gene pool

The researchers concluded in their study that modern humans share the same line of ancestry as Neanderthals some half-million years ago, but it is far more likely to have entered the homo sapiens gene pool through more recent interbreeding.

The study also revealed that the potentially dangerous string of Neanderthal DNA is not evenly distributed today across the globe, the study showed.

Some 16 per cent of Europeans carry it, and about half the population across South Asia, with the highest proportion — 63 per cent — found in Bangladesh.

The authors speculated that this could be the reason why people of Bangladeshi descent, now living in Europe, are twice as likely to die from the virus as the general population.

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Published on October 01, 2020
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