How is it applied in everyday life?

Jesús del Mazo, researcher at the Margarita Salas Biological Research Center.

“Yes we do not know our genetic pastwe will hardly understand our Present and much less foresee our future”. That clearly speaks in Medical Writing Jesus of the Mazospecialist of Biological Research Center Margarita Salas (CIB-CSIC), in relation to the findings on the DNA of the Neanderthals achieved by him researcher Svante Pääbowhich has been granted the Nobel Prize in Medicine. To level sanitarythe fact of genetically knowing how we have evolved allows, according to the researcher, “to understand many diseases of genetic origin. If we find genes related to the cancerit could quickly be detected if the Neanderthals had it and analyze what consequences can it have and how to deal with it, as has already happened in other studied genes”.

The health consequences that this finding can convey are enormously important according to the researcher, allowing to know and understand various situations that are difficult to understand without the knowledge of the neanderthal genetics: “The same group led by Pääbo studied a gene consisting of a progesterone receptor (PGR). It is an essential element for early embryonic stages and maintenance of the pregnancy process. If the Neanderthal genome and current populations are analyzed, the gene has remained in a 20 percent of the population currently. Women with low levels of progesterone or with the absence of this gene, which increases sensitivity to the hormone, are more likely to suffer miscarriages, menstrual problems, etc.”

This fact has been possible because, in the words of the researcher, “the transposition of the progesterone gene from Neanderthals to sapiens occurred as a result of interbreeding between the two, favoring fertility in women carriers of this gene received from Neanderthals. We are therefore finding the origin of a gene that is closely linked to fertility, so at a therapeutic level it could be of great interest”.

“At a therapeutic level, the origin of the gene linked to fertility may be key”

Another discovery mentioned by the CSIC researcher is related to another gene typical of Denisovans, distantly related to Neanderthals and that they settled in Asia: “This particular gene activated the production of hemoglobin in areas with low oxygen levels. The Denisovans lived at high altitudes, like the Tibet. This gene allowed them higher survival in elevated areas where oxygen levels are low, and is still found in populations today living in Tibet. Those Homo sapiens have the ability to produce hemoglobin more effectively in low oxygen levels. Thanks to the discovery that the Nobel Prize has achieved, it will be possible to find the origin of many more genes, their function and pathogenesis and potentially therapeutic investigations.”

DNA conservation processes in archaeological remains

On the other hand, in order to preserve higher integrity the archaeological remains for further investigation, del Mazo warns that “the systems of conservation procedures must take into account the genetic information that exists, and that it is very sensitive to radiation. Depending on how this procedure is carried out, the DNA is affected and sometimes it becomes impossible to sequence it”.

“Understanding possible future therapies depends largely on knowing where we come from genetically”

Know her Homo Neanderthal genetic line It allows, at a practical level, to know genes that today continue to affect a large part of the population. “Understanding the current situation and possible future therapies depends largely on knowing where we come from genetically,” recalls the CSIC researcher, who hopes to learn more information about it to take advantage of it in the face of different types of diseases, such as the cancer.

Although it may contain statements, data or notes from health institutions or professionals, the information contained in Medical Writing is edited and prepared by journalists. We recommend the reader that any questions related to health be consulted with a health professional.

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