Modern Humans Acquired Allergies and Immunity Boost from Neanderthals

Saturday, January 09, 2016

Neanderthal Connection

Two separate studies published in the American Journal of Human Genetics asserts that Neanderthals’ genes boosted modern humans’ immunity against viruses and bacteria but they may also be the reason for our allergies. The findings stated that modern humans’ interbreeding with archaic humans such as Neanderthals and Denisovans has influenced the evolution of the innate immune system, which is the body’s first line of defence against infections.

Researchers for the study focused on 1,500 genes that are known to play an important role in the innate immune system. Thereafter, they examined patterns of genetic variation and evolutionary changes in those regions which were related to the rest of the genome at an unprecedented level of detail. Following this, they studied the timing of changes in the innate immunity and the extent to which the variation in those genes passed down from the Neanderthals.

Modern humans migrated from Africa around 60,000 years ago wherein they came into contact with ancient humans located in Europe and West Asia. Previous studies have shown that about one to six percent of the modern Eurasian genomes were inherited from archaic humans.  

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