About the episode
Thanks to ancient genetic material, researchers have a better idea of how some genetic modifications reached Europe. One of these is an increased risk of developing MS.
The original carriers came to our continent in three waves. The first wave occurred about 45,000 years ago, when hunter-gatherers came this way from Asia. About 11,000 years ago, farmers moved from the Middle East to Europe, and 5,000 years ago they were joined by pastoralists from West Asia.
What was thought was that most of the genetic differences we see now arose due to the mixing of all these existing groups and populations and people adapting over time to conditions in different parts of Europe. But this turned out not to be the case.
For example, researchers have seen that some migratory groups barely mixed with populations who were already there, but that existing populations were displaced and replaced in some places. This is the case in Denmark, for example.
They also discovered that modern humans often carry genetic traces of all three migration groups, but depending on where they live, often more of one than the other.
Many of the genetic characteristics we still have, including genes that control physiological characteristics such as height and genes that cause an increased risk of certain diseases, can be traced back to one of the three movements.
For example, the risk of MS has increased with the recent wave from West Asia. Perhaps the same genes originally also provided an evolutionary advantage, which is why they were strongly inherited.
Read more about the research here: Ancient DNA reveals origins of multiple sclerosis in Europe
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