One Genetic Risk Factor for Severe Respiratory Distress from COVID-19 Derives from Neanderthals

Several days ago, Carl Zimmer, wrote a piece on a curious segment of the human genome, spanning 6 genes on Chromosome 3. This segment is unique in that 63% of Bangladeshi's carry at least one copy, and about 1/3 of of South Asians carry this variant. In Europe, only 8% of people carry this segment,... Continue Reading →

European Women with Neanderthal Progesterone Receptor Gene Are More Fertile

Hugo Zeberg, at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology and the Karolinska Institutet, published an interesting study with colleagues Janet Kelso and Svante Pääbo on Neandertal admixture and its impact on modern day fertility. Diverging from a common human lineage over 600,000 years ago, Neandertals and modern humans began an exchange of genetic material... Continue Reading →

Growing ‘Mini-Brains’ With Neanderthal DNA

Svante Pääbo, director of the genetics department at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany wants to grow brain organoids from human stem cells that are edited to contain "Neanderthalized" versions of several genes. These blobs of brain are incapable of thoughts or feelings, but replicate basic structures of the brain, such... Continue Reading →

Five Neanderthal Genomes Tell Us More Than Ever

We've been quite limited by our ancient DNA of Neanderthals due to limited sample size from the fossil record and then compounded with degradation and contamination of DNA. Last week, Nature, published a fantastic article ultimately from Svante Pääbo and Janet Kelso on a novel way to extract more DNA from less fossil sample; using... Continue Reading →

Denisovans & Modern Humans Introgressed At Least Twice

Sharon Browning and colleagues published a paper in Cell last week that shows there are uniquely different Denisovan genomes in the DNA of East Asian individuals, indicating that interbreeding with Homo sapiens happened in two independent episodes. See we already knew Aboriginal genomes from Australia and Papua New Guinea contain fragments of Denisovan DNA. Introgression of... Continue Reading →

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