People with Neanderthal allergens treat medication differently, the study shows

First a history lesson: The Neanderthals are an extinct subspecies of archaic humans that evolved in Europe and parts of Asia and became extinct about 40,000 years ago. They are different from Homo sapiens us, in essence, and relatively new in the evolutionary timeline. Homo Sapiens used to be one of several human and human-like monkey species collectively known as hominins, which include Ardipithecus, Standing man, and more. It does show evidence, however Homo sapiens and some of these other species, including Neanderthals, crossed – which may explain why some people today still contain traces of Neanderthal genes.

What’s more – the results of this ancient cross could play a role in how different people treat modern medicine today. A new study, published in Pharmacogenics Journal, noticed how common but essential drugs like blood thinners, ibuprofen and statins (used to lower cholesterol) are not all broken down in exactly the same way. The enzymes in our bodies that are responsible for doing so go back millennia. “This is a case where the mix of Neanderthals has a direct impact on the clinic. Otherwise, therapeutic doses may be toxic to carriers of the Neanderthal gene variant,” said evolutionary geneticist Hugo Zeberg, who led the study.

The finding follows recent research that has shown how we can all have more Neanderthal DNA than we might have previously thought. This DNA affects everything from our sleep patterns, our tendency to nicotine addiction, hair color and even skin color. So far, these have been pretty benign considerations as far as our health is concerned – but the new study sheds light on how it might be important to learn more about how much we have inherited from these early humans.

The biological differences that individuals with Neanderthal DNA experience have to do with a family of enzymes in the liver called cytochrome P450, which helps metabolize many of the drugs we take. It is the result of encoding a gene called CYP2C9 that can encode the cytochrome in 20 different ways: where CYP2C9 * 2 is a type that is 70% less efficient at degrading drugs than CYP2C9 * 1. What type we inherit plays a role in how long we can keep substances in our system and effectively degrade them.

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There is another type called CYP2C8 * 3, which has been shown to be paired with CYP2C9 * 2 – an incident that tipped scientists that they may have Neanderthal origins. They are present together in what is known as a haplotype – a “group of genomic variants that tend to be inherited together.” In this haplotype, the two gene variants are separated by a long chain of DNA “bases” – something seen in Neanderthals.

“Before what are now estimated to be several confluence events between Neanderthals and modern humans, these two groups evolved largely independently of each other for ~ 500,000 years … During this time, both groups accumulated genetic variants that differed from their ancestors. conditions seen in other primates, “the researchers explained in their paper. Different environmental conditions may have caused both species to evolve with different genetic variations.

“Recently, the major genetic risk factor for a severe outcome of Covid19 infection as well as a protective variant [has] proved to be of Neanderthal origin … Although this knowledge does not in itself change clinical practice, it explains the differences observed across ancestors seen in clinical practice, “the paper went on to explain.

We are the only surviving species of the group of hominins that roamed the Earth tens of thousands of years ago. The others died of various causes – including climate change – but new studies show how they still continue to live in our own bodies. It could explain many variations we see among ourselves, and more importantly, knowing that we are not so different from our early ancestors could potentially unpack anthropocentric notions of intelligence, superiority, and how we occupy this planet.

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