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post #1 of 35 (permalink) Old Nov 29th, 2012, 07:21 AM Thread Starter
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European-Americans have developed a huge batch of potentially harmful genetic...

... mutations!!
A recent study shows.


I found this article interesting on many levels.
And it certainly confirmed a few theories I've had for decades.
Hoping that it does the same for others here as well.

Study shows surge of bad disease genes in Europeans


By Maggie Fox, NBC News
A scan of all the mutations in the human gene map shows something surprising – people of European descent are evolving fast, and not for the better.

The study finds that in the past 5,000 years, European-Americans have developed a huge batch of potentially harmful genetic mutations – many more than African-Americans.

The study, published in the journal Nature, may help explain why so many people develop diseases even though they don’t have common genetic mutations. It can also help explain why different people have so many different reactions to the same drug, said Joshua Akey of the University of Washington in Seattle who led the study.

It likely has to do with population explosion, Akey said. European populations expanded after the Ice Age ended and prosperous agricultural societies emerged. “The number of mutations that exist is directly attributable to the population growth that happened in the last 5,000 years,” Akey told NBC News.

“The things that allowed us to go from millions to billions of has also been the same process that has been pumping in all these new mutations.”

Akey and colleagues at genetics institutions across the country examined the gene sequences of more than 6,500 people – more than 4,200 European-Americans and 2,200 African-Americans. They were looking for small changes in the genetic code called single nucleotide variants – one-letter differences in the genetic code of A,C, T and G.

They found “an enormous excess of rare variants” in the European-Americans. And 73 percent of these mutations only appeared in the human genome in the past 5,000 to 10,000 years. Most were mutations that are known to weaken proteins, Akey said, and most of these harmful mutations were also in the people of European descent.

Now researchers are working to see which of these mutations might be associated with diseases. But many are in known disease-causing genes, such as the LAMC1 gene associated with premature ovarian failure, LRP1, which is linked with both Alzheimer’s disease and obesity and the CPE gene linked to hardening of the arteries.

Most are rare mutations – meaning they only affect a few people. “Some genes might be more disease-causing than other genes,” Akey said.

It may explain why it’s been so hard to find clear genetic links to many diseases. “We have been looking for disease risk where it isn’t,’ he said. “The last five to 10 years have been dominated by looking for common genetic variations that dominate common diseases. There is a lot of disease risk that is unexplained. Maybe there are classes of mutations that haven’t been looked at.”

The findings could explain why some people can smoke for a lifetime and never get lung cancer or heart disease, while someone else might suffer a heart attack despite having healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

It definitely shows evolution in action, Akey said. “It’s just the process of evolution playing out in real time,” he said. “The dramatic population expansions that occurred over the past couple thousand years had a profound consequence on our genetic variability.”

Genetic mutations usually occur by accident – they are just mistakes that get made when DNA gets copied. They become important to evolution when they affect a person’s ability to survive and have children. The expansion of civilization, and the ability of societies to care for people who are less fit, was probably a factor in allowing these mutations to spring up, Akey said. “I think that is undoubtedly true,” he said.

Some of the genes identified in the scan also affect peoples’ response to drugs. That could explain why some people are helped, for example, by a cholesterol-lowering drug while others may not be. There wouldn’t have been much “selective pressure” on these genes before the modern drug era, but that doesn’t mean the genes were not influenced by something else. “It turns out that genes involved in adverse drug responses also have different biological roles,” Akey said – for instance, detoxifying certain foods.

There may even be more evolution in the future, Akey predicted. One example – phenylketonuria or PKU. It’s caused by a mutation in a gene that breaks down an amino acid called phenylalanine. People with PKU mutations must eat a strict, low-protein diet or they can develop seizures and mental retardation.

Now newborns are routinely tested for PKU so they can start the diet immediately and avoid any brain damage. Akey said because these kids can now grow up and lead normal lives, they will likely start having children and the gene may become more common in the population.
http://vitals.nbcnews.com/_news/2012...id=msnhp&pos=4

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post #2 of 35 (permalink) Old Nov 29th, 2012, 02:42 PM
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Re: European-Americans have developed a huge batch of potentially harmful genetic...

What theories did it confirm for you?

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post #3 of 35 (permalink) Old Nov 29th, 2012, 04:55 PM Thread Starter
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Re: European-Americans have developed a huge batch of potentially harmful genetic...

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What theories did it confirm for you?
A few that immediately come to mind:

* A recent drug "cocktail" for AIDS that worked exceptionally well on two minority groups (African descendents and Asians) but not on Caucasians.

* The disproportionate number of illnesses that afflict many White-Americans, but not other minorities.

* Why doctors are so pushy (often demanding) for African-American (kids & adults) to take recent immunization shots, and get extremely upset when they are declined.

* Why so much medical studies has been conducted on African-Americans, to the point of severely breaking civil rights laws. I'm thinking for data collection, since Black-Americans avoid many shots and such.

And of course, the article hit on a small number as well.

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post #4 of 35 (permalink) Old Nov 29th, 2012, 05:36 PM
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Re: European-Americans have developed a huge batch of potentially harmful genetic...

Well, point 3 has a lot to do with herd immunity, and most of those diseases affect all ethnic groups.

The question I would wonder about, though, is most mutations only survive if they confer a positive benefit as well. I wonder what some of those might be?

I also wonder if we'll see some changes in other ethnic groups over time. For several generations now, African-Americans, Hispanics and I'm pretty sure Asians have tended to marry younger than whites, a trend that is changing. I know some of the genetic issues are older than that and trace back to the boom in the European population, but some articles on this research point out that whites have been marrying and reproducing at older ages on average, and give recent discoveries about older men's sperm this has probably had some impact. We'll see.

The real interesting thing to me is that it continues to highlight the complex interplay of how our genes work. I remember it wasn't that long ago when some scientists were talking about finding, say, the "high blood pressure gene" and coming up with a therapy for it. It's pretty clear it's going to be more complex than that. In the long run, we'll probably all benefit from this research. Or our grandkids or great-grandkids will.

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post #5 of 35 (permalink) Old Nov 29th, 2012, 09:11 PM
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Re: European-Americans have developed a huge batch of potentially harmful genetic...

I guess the OP should share this with the writers who used to peddle the that HIV was released into the human population because blacks were (supposedly) more likely to develop AIDS and die; with the Tuskegee experiments in leaving syphilis untreated as the only "evidence" of this (allegedly) attempted genocide.

And with the mainstream medical authorities, who routinely talk about higher rates of prostate cancer and hypertension among blacks (who also have a near-monopoly on sickle cell anemia). Err wait, that wouldn't fit the typical RVD "racialist" narrative.
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post #6 of 35 (permalink) Old Nov 29th, 2012, 11:44 PM
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Re: European-Americans have developed a huge batch of potentially harmful genetic...

TF has its own Black Jimmie the Greek!

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post #7 of 35 (permalink) Old Nov 30th, 2012, 12:09 AM Thread Starter
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Re: European-Americans have developed a huge batch of potentially harmful genetic...

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Well, point 3 has a lot to do with herd immunity, and most of those diseases affect all ethnic groups.
I used to wonder (and still do) if the CDC ever considerd that there are various diseases not prevalent among certain ethnic groups. This stems from the fact that intense immunological study often does not include minorities.
On the one hand, I can certainly understand this approach in that it is best to target the majority ethnic group first. However, research often stops (or significantly slows) upon discovery of medicines and effective immunization serums that offer a significant degree of protection for the majority population.
There have been doctors that I've spoken to who've said that they've had the same concerns. But most won't admit this.
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The question I would wonder about, though, is most mutations only survive if they confer a positive benefit as well. I wonder what some of those might be?
This is an interesting point.
I think that in the case of psychological illnesses, a population can still reproduce depending on psychological severity. So psychotic illnesses may be an exception.
There may be other mutations that are also not beneficial that defy this line of logic as well, but no other illnesses immediately come to mind.

Quote:
Originally Posted by miffedmax View Post
I also wonder if we'll see some changes in other ethnic groups over time. For several generations now, African-Americans, Hispanics and I'm pretty sure Asians have tended to marry younger than whites, a trend that is changing. I know some of the genetic issues are older than that and trace back to the boom in the European population, but some articles on this research point out that whites have been marrying and reproducing at older ages on average, and give recent discoveries about older men's sperm this has probably had some impact. We'll see.
You may well have a point here. And the answer is likely 'yes'. One would expect a certain degree of mutations among ethnic groups. However, possibly not as many changes as various ethnic minorities groups appear to exhibit resistance to illnesses that typically afflict Caucasians.
However, unfortunately, since these studies primarily target Caucasians, we may never know.

Quote:
Originally Posted by miffedmax View Post
The real interesting thing to me is that it continues to highlight the complex interplay of how our genes work. I remember it wasn't that long ago when some scientists were talking about finding, say, the "high blood pressure gene" and coming up with a therapy for it. It's pretty clear it's going to be more complex than that. In the long run, we'll probably all benefit from this research. Or our grandkids or great-grandkids will.
So true.
I've loved the fascinating world of Human Biology, including genetics, since high school.
Genetic coding always seemed like a beautiful puzzle. Weird, I know.
I was on the verge of securing a Berkeley scholarship in 1981 through referral of my Biology teacher.
Unfortunately, Berkeley stated that they had filled their quota of Black applicants.
Interestingly, my daughter has expressed a strong desire to study Neurovirology, so I am jazzed as hell.

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post #8 of 35 (permalink) Old Nov 30th, 2012, 12:11 AM Thread Starter
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Re: European-Americans have developed a huge batch of potentially harmful genetic...

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TF has its own Black Jimmie the Greek!
Speaking of psychological mutations...

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Re: European-Americans have developed a huge batch of potentially harmful genetic...

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And in you, its own transsexual Wilford Brimley.

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post #10 of 35 (permalink) Old Nov 30th, 2012, 06:44 AM Thread Starter
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Re: European-Americans have developed a huge batch of potentially harmful genetic...

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And in you, its own transsexual Wilford Brimley.

Be peaceful, be courteous, obey the law, respect everyone; but if someone puts his hand on you, send him to the cemetery. - Malcolm X
A man who stands for nothing will fall for anything. - Malcolm X
Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall. - Confucius
The greatest scholars are not usually the wisest people. - Geoffrey Chaucer
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post #11 of 35 (permalink) Old Nov 30th, 2012, 07:46 AM
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Re: European-Americans have developed a huge batch of potentially harmful genetic...

Aren't there a certain subgroup of white Europeans (Nordic, I believe) who are immune to HIV? +1 for positive mutation. I think they carry a different version of the cell receptor protein that HIV latches onto.

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post #12 of 35 (permalink) Old Nov 30th, 2012, 11:18 AM
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Re: European-Americans have developed a huge batch of potentially harmful genetic...

I read a couple of articles on this that said that yes, some of these mutations were probably positive, too, like the one you bring up, moby. It's also worth reemphasizing that most of these affect a very small percent of the population, as reflected in the relatively good health overall of most Europeans and persons of European descent.

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post #13 of 35 (permalink) Old Dec 1st, 2012, 02:03 AM Thread Starter
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Re: European-Americans have developed a huge batch of potentially harmful genetic...

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Aren't there a certain subgroup of white Europeans (Nordic, I believe) who are immune to HIV? +1 for positive mutation. I think they carry a different version of the cell receptor protein that HIV latches onto.
Can you locate a paper on this? That sounds very interesting.
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I read a couple of articles on this that said that yes, some of these mutations were probably positive, too, like the one you bring up, moby. It's also worth reemphasizing that most of these affect a very small percent of the population, as reflected in the relatively good health overall of most Europeans and persons of European descent.
I believe that you are correct, as it would stand to reason that all human (genetic) mutations would not be negative.
This would also be interesting research as well.

The article likely focused on negative mutations because those are the ones we'd like to see eliminated.
That's entirely an assumption though.

In thinking further on this, certain genetic mutations initially deemed negative, may even be beneficial.
For example, the sickle-cell gene, which is resistant to Malaria, is reportedly more prevalent, or common, among the African populations/nations. This genetic mutation only becomes problematic if an excess of sickle shaped red blood cells exists.
So relatively speaking, not all negative mutations are completely undesired.

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post #14 of 35 (permalink) Old Dec 1st, 2012, 07:23 AM
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Re: European-Americans have developed a huge batch of potentially harmful genetic...

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I read a couple of articles on this that said that yes, some of these mutations were probably positive, too, like the one you bring up, moby. It's also worth reemphasizing that most of these affect a very small percent of the population, as reflected in the relatively good health overall of most Europeans and persons of European descent.
Which has much more to do with their socioeconomic position in the US than anything genetic...


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post #15 of 35 (permalink) Old Dec 1st, 2012, 02:06 PM
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Re: European-Americans have developed a huge batch of potentially harmful genetic...

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Aren't there a certain subgroup of white Europeans (Nordic, I believe) who are immune to HIV? +1 for positive mutation. I think they carry a different version of the cell receptor protein that HIV latches onto.
HIV enters the cells via CCR5 receptor, amongst others. Some Europeans carry a deletion mutant of this receptor which makes them resistant against HIV as the virus cannot enter the T cells. I myself am heterozygous for this mutation meaning I am less likely to get HIV but am not completelz resistant (I was once researching on HIV and thus, tested myself on this mutation. ). However, people with that HIV resistancy can still carry the virus and infect others.

About the topic: Human lifestyle allowed mutations to accumulate. It is not surprising and it does not mean that all mutations are "bad". After all, blue eyes are also the result of a mutation.

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