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Dark secrets of DNA. Scientists talk about dangerous types of marriage

Dark secrets of DNA. Scientists talk about dangerous types of marriage 86

Scientists sequenced the genome of a man buried in a Stone Age tomb at Newgrange in Ireland and found that he was born as a result of incest. Marriages between close relatives were almost always prohibited due to the threat of degeneration. However, there is a risk of accidental incest. How dangerous it is from the point of view of genetics?

Power sealed in blood

For biological and cultural reasons, incest has been taboo since ancient times. They violated the ban in exceptional cases for the sake of strengthening power. Probably, the discovery of Irish scientists in Newgrange is connected with this – with the formation of the ruling elite in prehistoric society.

Dynastic marriages between relatives and cousins ​​were concluded in Ancient Egypt, the Inca empire, in the royal families of the Hawaiian archipelago. It once symbolized the purity of blood.
The majority of Iceland’s 360,000 inhabitants are descendants of several Viking groups who settled on the island in the 9th century.

The population is genetically very homogeneous. A few years ago, local company deCode Genetics even released an app based on a DNA test database to prevent young people from accidentally marrying a close relative.

DNA rushes to the rescue

Computer programs have been developed that compare a set of certain regions of the genome and determine the degree of relationship. Genealogical research is generally very popular now. People do DNA tests, upload the results to public databases such as Ancestry and Gedmach, and find relatives. First of all, those who do not know their origin: raised in orphanages, adopted.

Sometimes this kind of research brings unpleasant surprises. So, an American gave her husband a DNA test for his birthday. The results shocked the spouses: they turned out to be first-order cousins ​​on the father’s side. Moreover, the couple already had a two-year-old child. The woman spoke about this a year ago in the podcast of the American publication Slate.

Dark secrets of DNA. Scientists talk about dangerous types of marriage 87

Scientists immediately warned that sperm donation is fraught with accidental incest, and recommended strictly limiting the number of children conceived by one donor. In 2011, The New York Times reported 150 half-brothers and sisters. In 2017, the British press raised the issue of countries like Nigeria where the legislative regulation of this area is weak. Last year in the United States, there was a lot of discussion about the story of Dr. Kline, who tricked female clients of a reproductive clinic with his own sperm. Nearly five dozen of his biological children have found each other through public DNA testing databases.

How dangerous are “dynastic ties”

Children of incestuous marriages are twice as likely to get hereditary pathology. They have a higher risk of rare genetic diseases (orphan diseases) caused by recessive alleles – variants of genes whose activity is usually suppressed.

“Both spouses can inherit a recessive mutant allele from a common ancestor. They are healthy, but they have a heterozygous genotype, that is, with this allele. The probability that such a couple will have a sick child with a homozygous genotype is 25 percent,”.


If both parents carry an X chromosome with a mutant gene, then the risk of passing them on to both children increases to 25%. This situation often develops in closely related marriages.

In this case, medical genetic counseling is necessary in order to reduce the risk of passing on the genetic pathology to the child. Experts take into account everything: the degree of kinship, the state of health of family members, other kinship marriages in previous generations, ethnicity, since some hereditary diseases accumulate in certain ethnic groups.

“During pregnancy, you can undergo prenatal genetic diagnostics in order to obtain the most accurate data on the genetic material of the child,”.

Meanwhile, according to various estimates, about a billion people live in closed communities, where closely related marriages are not uncommon and even encouraged. For example, in Egypt, men could only marry if they had a home. Accordingly, the problem was solved by marriage between relatives living under the same roof – as a rule, cousins.

“In southern India, more than 52 percent of marriages are between cousins ​​and second cousins. Many nationalities have lived like this for thousands of years and have not disappeared from the face of the earth because of a rare recessive gene associated with any disease,”.

A person is able to adapt to almost any situation, Sosin believes. The most serious pathologies that are not compatible with life are eliminated even at the zygote stage – when the germ cells merge or the first few divisions of the embryo. If the pathology is not fatal, the child can be born.

Scientists give an example – Turkey, where marriages between cousins ​​and sisters are very common. Infant mortality is high there, and among the elderly it is common in countries with similar income and social security levels. This phenomenon is called the “Turkish puzzle”.

“In 1968, 27 percent of marriages in Turkey were concluded by close relatives. In 2008, 24. Studies have shown that, in general, first-degree marriages, that is, between a cousin and a sister, increase infant mortality by 45 percent. This is another insurance policy. , through which nature removes from the equation of life children who are not able to exist physically fully, “.

However, it is incorrect to deduce a certain average value of the risk of pathologies in closely related marriages. Each case is unique. It is especially difficult with multifactorial diseases, the causes of which remain unclear. By the way, they can be ecological, rooted in the way of life. For example, schizophrenia. Parents with this diagnosis have a 29 percent risk of transmitting the pathology to their child, and 41 percent if they are close relatives. According to some reports, children born in a marriage between a cousin and a sister have slightly worse IQ scores (by 0.8-1.3 points).

On the Internet, they write that in closely related marriages, almost half of the children are with hereditary pathologies. In fact, Sosin emphasizes, much less. According to various estimates, from one to nine percent, when it comes to parents who are each other’s first generation cousins.

Science & Technology

Cyberfarm 2077. YouTuber showed what a Russian cyber village could look like

Cyberfarm 2077. YouTuber showed what a Russian cyber village could look like 92
Photo: video screenshot youtube.com/birchpunk

On November 19, the day the Cyberpunk 2077 video game was supposed to be released, a five-minute video about a Russian cyber village appeared on YouTube. It combines the aesthetics of cyberpunk with the life of the Russian provinces.

Cyberfarm 2077. YouTuber showed what a Russian cyber village could look like 93

Russian director and blogger Sergei Vasiliev made a short film that is an excerpt from the life of a fictional Russian village with the technologies of the future. The short film was shot in the style of a video blog. 

“They say that Russia is a technically backward country, there are no roads, no robotics, rockets do not fly, and mail takes too long. [This is not true],” the creators say.

The main character, a farmer called Nikolai, talks about his cyber farm, where three androids work, and invites new workers to his business. The robots milk the cows, walk them and go to fetch water. Instead of a cesspool, there is a black hole in the toilets, and mail is delivered by flying wagons of the Russian Post. New technologies have also solved the problem of Russian roads – cars now fly over it, but even there are holes in the air.

The authors of the short film said that a “creative association of enthusiasts” worked on the creative, and now they “plan to release further videos in the same universe.”

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Science & Technology

German scientists have found a drink that kills coronavirus in five minutes

German scientists have found a drink that kills coronavirus in five minutes 94

German scientists from the University of Ulm have discovered a natural product that kills up to 97% of the coronavirus in the body. The researchers published their work in the journal bioRxiv.  

During the study, experts mixed juices with viruses at room temperature and monitored the results. It turned out that black chokeberry juice most effectively suppresses the activity of the virus in the human body – it destroys up to 97% of COVID-19 pathogens in just five minutes.

Scientists have discovered a product that kills coronavirus by 97%

In addition, pomegranate juice can kill up to 80% of the coronavirus pathogens. The rest of natural juices and green tea can also weaken the disease, since they have an acidic environment and plant polyphenols that negatively affect the virus.

Scientists have discovered a product that kills coronavirus by 97% in 5 minutes

In order to get rid of 80% of COVID-19 pathogens, scientists recommended that patients rinse the oropharynx with these solutions and rinse the nasopharynx. The study adds that plant polyphenols and acidic environments have a damaging effect on viral proteins.

During the study, scientists mixed drinks with viral particles and influenza A virus (IAV), adenovirus 5 (AdV5) and SARS-CoV-2. The observation was carried out under room temperature conditions. The experts also worked on swine flu with different juices and teas.

“Preventing the initial infection or reducing the viral load of an infection can relieve symptoms, prevent spread to the lower respiratory tract or transmission to another person,” the study said.

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Science & Technology

Netflix sci-fi show about life on other planets kicks off in December

Netflix sci-fi show about life on other planets kicks off in December 95

In early December, Netflix is ​​launching a new show, Alien Worlds, dedicated to alien planets and the life that might have developed on them.

The show’s creators relied on real facts and astrobiology to imagine creatures that could inhabit the exoplanets that support life in our modern sense.

Naturally, all this is nothing more than speculation. We do not have the opportunity to send missions to these worlds, and even if we build an apparatus for flying to neighboring systems, the journey will take hundreds of years. 

Therefore, scientists are counting on a new generation of telescopes and analysis systems to determine the composition of the atmosphere of exoplanets. Next year, the launch of the James Webb Telescope will take place, which will allow you to look deeper into space. 

Alien Worlds premieres on December 2.

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