Bug resistant city life27th September 2010
Researchers from the University of London have said that people who live in urban environments may have the genetic advantage when it comes to resisting infection.
The team looked at the number of people who were carriers of a certain genetic variant which made them resistant to tuberculosis and leprosy.
They found that the gene was more prevalent in people who lived in urban areas, where the diseases had more likelihood of existing at some time.
The team said the result showed evidence of "evolution in action".
This resistance occurs when people are threatened by a deadly disease and those who survive - whose genes are best suited to fighting or resisting infection - pass their genes to their children.
People who live in cities and urban environments have more likelihood of being exposed to these diseases.
The researchers analysed DNA samples from 17 populations from Europe, Africa and Asia.
The gene variant was discovered in almost the entire sample of people who lived in the Middle East, India and placed in Europe with long-established cities.
However the variant was less widespread in areas such as Africa.
Dr Ian Barnes, one of the authors of the study, said: "This seems to be an elegant example of evolution in action. It flags up the importance of a very recent aspect of our evolution as a species, the development of cities as a selective force."
"It could also help explain some of the differences we observe in disease resistance around the world," he added.
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Title: Bug resistant city life
Author: Jess Laurence
Article Id: 16201
Date Added: 27th Sep 2010