PaleoCovid, a coronavirus epidemic also in the Paleolithic

PaleoCovid, a coronavirus epidemic also in the Paleolithic


A genomic study reveals the presence of another coronavirus epidemic, which has occurred in East Asia. But this time we are talking about 20 thousand years ago

(photo: PixxlTeufel via Pixabay) Coronaviruses were already doing damage in prehistoric times. A new study conducted by biologists and geneticists reveals an epidemic of a coronavirus - certainly not Sars-Cov-2 - which occurred 20 thousand years ago, in prehistory and precisely in the last part of the Paleolithic. The research, which was attended by the universities of Arizona and that of Adelaide, Australia, is the result of a survey that combines genomics, biology, statistics and data analysis. By reconstructing the history and mutations of coronaviruses, the study, published in Current Biology, highlights that our genes began to interact with coronaviruses already several thousand years ago and that an epidemic was underway 20 thousand years ago. Going back to the roots can be useful to better understand how these and other pathogens evolve and behave.

The genome a bit like the rings of a tree

History helps us understand current events and this is also true in the field of medicine, viruses and more. The researchers collected data from the 1000 Genomes Project, a project born in 2008 that provides the largest catalog in the world on the genetic variations of our species. The authors considered 26 populations, studying for each specific characteristics of the DNA and in particular the presence of genetic elements linked to coronaviruses. Two models and statistical tests were also used in the survey to rework and rearrange the large amount of data. “The modern human genome contains information on evolution that includes clues dating back tens of thousands of years,” explains Kirill Alexandrov, a lecturer at the University of Arizona, “in the same way that by studying the rings of a tree, one obtains information about conditions and how he grew up ".

The coronavirus in the DNA of our Asian ancestors

In short, it should not surprise us - except to the extent that science is increasingly revolutionary - that epidemics of 20 thousand years ago can be discovered from the DNA. The survey shows that dozens of human genes in East Asian populations began to interact with coronavirus genes at that time and therefore the genome already contained traces of these pathogens. This significant interaction is evidence of the presence of an epidemic limited, however, to the populations of East Asia. It is interesting to note, as the authors also do, how coronavirus outbreaks emerge more often in Asian regions - think not only of Covid-19, but also Sars and Mers, all caused by coronavirus.

At the root of epidemics also to better understand the present

The reasons for this phenomenon are yet to be understood and scientists stress that the discovery does not necessarily imply that these populations are genetically more susceptible. The authors note that in the case of Covid-19 it is shown that various socio-economic factors have contributed, such as the response of individual countries and health systems, the ability to test and track infected people, individual factors - without forgetting that up to recently, in the not so distant past, travel was not so easy.

The aspect to be stressed is that studies of this kind can help identify viruses that affected our ancestors and that could even reappear , in different forms, causing new outbreaks and epidemics. For this reason, historical analyzes of evolution can also be helpful for modern medicine.

Medicine - 26 Jun

Covid-19, without vaccines Africa risks lagging behind (still)

New Homo population challenges Neanderthal history

What is happening in Israel with the Delta variant?


Coronavirus Dna Genetic evolution globalData.fldTopic = "Coronavirus, Dna, Evolution, genetics"

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Powered by Blogger.