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Friday, November 20, 2009


There are many jokes about cannibals, but this it is one of black humor. People of the town of Fore (New Papua Guinea), acquired kuru (transmissible brain prion disease), 200 years ago because eating during funeral feasts brains of dead humans, practice that kill 2500 Fore among 1920-1950 due to human-human transmission until when being identified the cause in 1950, the practice was stopped. Simón Mead not would image that when discovering the "anti-kuru" gene he would watch fast scenes of human evolution that would allow him late to understand the dissemination of illnesses for prions in brains of cows and other animals identifying later the varying Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD) that kill 166 people in England.

Mead and their colleagues discovered the protective mutation gene after comparing 152 people's stored DNA of dead Fore, with others of 3000 alive Fore, including 560 participants in rituals where was consumed human brains, discovering in 51 survivors the unknown variant of a gene producing of prions, a protein that turned brains in a spongy mass. At the same time Mead discovered the protective variant gene G127V, in people that lived exclusively in the area in which developed the kuru, a random event happened 100 years ago in a couple of families. According to José Ordovas, a sudden genetic change raised under intense selection with quick human adaptations to the environment.


Hay muchos chistes de canibales, empero este es uno de humor negro. El pueblo de Fore (Papua New Guinea), adquirió el kuru (encefalopatía trasmisible inducida por priones: PrP), hace 200 años por comer durante fiestas funerales cerebros de humanos muertos, una practica que mato 2500 Fore entre 1920-1950 por trasmisión humano-humano, hasta que al identificarse la causa en 1950, la practica fue detenida. Simon Mead, no imaginaria que al descubrir el gene "anti-kuru" iba a expectar escenas veloces de evolución humana, que le permitirían tarde entender la diseminación de enfermedades por priones en cerebros de vacas y otros animales identificando la variante Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD), que mato 166 personas en Inglaterra.

Mead y sus colegas descubrieron la mutacion protectora tras comparar DNA almacenado de 152 personas Fore muertas, con otras de 3000 Fore vivos, incluyendo 560 participantes en rituales donde se comíeron cerebros humanos, descubriendo en 51 sobrevivientes la variante desconocida de un gene productor de priones, una proteína que tornaba el cerebro en una masa esponjosa. Al mismo tiempo Mead descubrió la variante protectora G127V, en gente que vivía exclusivamente en el area en la cual ocurrió el kuru, un evento accidental ocurrido hace 100 años en una pareja de familias. Según Jose Ordovas : un cambio genético súbito suscitado bajo intensa selección con rapidas adaptaciones humanas al medio ambiente.



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