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Monkeys: DNA shows us what makes us sick

Monkeys: DNA shows us what makes us sick

People differ much less than you think.

Data from 233 species of monkeys provide new insights into the genetic causes of human disease. While they clear millions of genetic changes (mutations) as benign, they also reveal some changes that promote disease. This was shown by a research team with Austrian participation in a special issue of the journal Science Sciences.

The researchers sequenced the genomes of primates — which include humans, great apes and monkeys as well as lemurs — and compared them with ancient data. “In total, we collected data from 809 individuals of 233 primate species, covering all 16 primate families,” wrote a study team led by Austrian Lukas Kuderna.

What is good and what is “bad”?

For example, 4.3 of the 70 million potential “missing mutations” are common in primates and may be considered benign because their presence is tolerated in these animals without evidence of disease. More than 65 million remaining mutations have been screened for their disease-causing effects using artificial intelligence. Among other things, eighteen new species have been discovered that can promote developmental disorders in the nervous system.

Genome comparisons have also shown that humans differ much more from apes than is assumed. Of the 647 mutations in genetic material that have so far been classified as purely human, about two-thirds are also found in other primates. “What makes us human seems to be rarer than expected,” says Martin Colwillm of the University of Vienna’s Department of Evolutionary Anthropology, who was also involved in several studies. (APA/The Trophy)

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(“Die Presse,” print edition, 06.03.2023)