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Study Finds Carriers of Ancient Neanderthal Genes at Higher Risk of Covid-19 Mortality


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Study Shows Neanderthal Genes Increase Risk of Severe Covid-19

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According to a recent study, individuals carrying ancient Neanderthal genes face a higher risk of mortality when exposed to Covid-19.

Neanderthal DNA Linked to Health Conditions

DNA inherited from species that became extinct approximately 40,000 years ago has been associated with autoimmune diseases, type 2 diabetes, and prostate cancer.

Genetic Variations Increase Risk of Severe Pneumonia

A team of Italian researchers from the Mario Negri Institute for Pharmaceutical Research discovered that people with three genetic variations inherited from Neanderthals are more susceptible to developing severe pneumonia. Additionally, they are three times more likely to require hospitalization and ventilation after contracting the virus.

Study Details

The researchers examined DNA samples from around 1,200 individuals in the province of Bergamo, the initial epicenter of the pandemic in early 2020.

The study, published in the journal iScience, found that 33% of participants from Bergamo with a Neanderthal haplotype (a group of inherited DNA variants on the same chromosome) experienced severe cases of Covid-19.

Increased Risk of Severe Pneumonia and Ventilation

Individuals with the Neanderthal haplotype were twice as likely to develop severe pneumonia and three times more likely to require ventilation in the intensive care unit.

Considering that over 75% of participants were born in the province of Bergamo, which had a high rate of severe cases and mortality related to Covid-19, the findings are significant.

Key Genetic Variant

The researchers conducted the ORIGN test, analyzing the genetic background of each participant. They identified three variants on chromosome 3, specifically the 3p21.31 locus. A crucial variant in this locus, located in the intron of LZTFL1, is associated with inflammatory genes such as CCR9, CXCR6, and XCR1.

Confirmation from Previous Studies

A 2020 study also found similar results, suggesting that individuals with Neanderthal genes have a higher risk of severe Covid-19. The study analyzed data from 3,199 infected patients in hospitals in Italy and Spain, finding a genetic signature linked to more severe disease.


Information sourced from the Daily Mail.

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