Monday, April 8, 2024

Using DNA to examine the impact of the ancient Yamnaya people on people of European descent


    In an article published on Science News, Bruce Bower describes a study that used DNA to examine the impact of the Yamnaya people on people of European descent. These ancient herders left their homelands in southwest Asia and mixed with Eastern European's roughly 5,000 years ago. When these two cultures collided the Yamnaya people brought with them their unique genes which can now be found in most people of Northern European Descent.

    The study described in this article utilized DNA sourced from bones and teeth from over 1,600 individuals. Of these 1,600 individuals 1,300 were ancient Europeans and 317 were modern Europeans and Western Asians.

    The article describes the effects of these unique genes on modern Europeans including an increased risk for multiple sclerosis. This disease is characterized by the body's immune system attacking the brain and spinal cord. This heightened risk emerged roughly 5,000 years ago among Yamnaya herders. However, in modern Europeans these genetic change was beneficial for these herders. It helped to  protect them from catching diseases carried by their horses, cattle, sheep, and goats. The same DNA analysis also revealed that the Yamnaya people were the ancestors of modern Danes when they reached Denmark 4,850 years ago.

    In my opinion this article is important because oftentimes as we learn more about the genetic component of diseases such as MS, progress is made towards finding treatments and even possibly a cure. Furthermore, this article helps to inform Europeans about the the diseases that they are prone to.and it helps to explain why Northern Europeans have a higher risk for MS.

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