The Romans and HIV
Posted: 04 September 2008 01:27 PM   [ Ignore ]
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An interesting article on the Romans and the current proliferation of HIV.  With our increasing knowledge of DNA, this sort of article is going to become more and more common: 

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2674993/Britons-may-be-more-vulnerable-to-Aids-due-to-Roman-invasion.html

[ Edited: 04 September 2008 08:33 PM by JRM5001 ]
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Posted: 04 September 2008 03:48 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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That is a very interesting find. I find it amazing how we can track human movement throughout history via DNA, and see how the various populations are changed by the movement.

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Posted: 04 September 2008 08:33 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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If I’m not mistaken, the first serious study was done in Iceland because the population had been fairly static for 1,000 years and they had good genealogy records.  I recall seeing an article about it @10-12 years ago in the NY Times.  From there we can surmise genetic study has expanded into archeology and other like fields.  Going back to the Roman period though is quite an advancement. 

When the 400th anniversary of Jamestown was rolling around, the Jamestown Foundation sponsored a new dig to try and find the original triangular fort.  It was believed to be under water, but was found almost completely intact on land.  The digs uncovered a lot of new information about the first years of the colony.

The first few years there were awful and a large majority of the settlers died of various causes, both natural and unnatural.  In particular, one gravesite was found that was believed to be one of the prominent original colonists named Gosnold who was pivotal in the first year.  Genealogy research of his family was done in England and two potential ancestors were found.  For the first time ever, the Anglican Church gave permission for a limited exhumation of both graves for testing.  Unfortunately due to time and renovations to the two church gravesites, it could not be determined whether they had found the correct graves there.  That was a few years ago, I don’t know if they were ever able to confirm Gosnold’s genetic identity but I know they have concluded the body found was probably his. 

In spite of this apparent failure, this represents a real opportunity to advance historical studies.  For example, through a comparison study of the Gullah language on the South Carolina coast (a slang language spoken by African Americans passed down from the time of slavery) located the approximate location of origin from Africa by comparing some of the non-English Gullah words with African languages.  These kinds of genetic studies could probably be done to further this sort of comparison even more precisely.  Seemingly lost information recovered through the advancement of science.

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Posted: 05 September 2008 04:21 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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The research on genetic markers and the Roman Empire is interesting, but definitely I’d take these sorts of headlines with large grains of salt. It’s all very speculative stuff.

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Posted: 05 September 2008 05:21 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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The headline was sort of a stretch, for shock value of some sort. The tracking of the DNA was interesting, though.

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Posted: 07 September 2008 01:06 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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I wonder if this will help figure out why certain people are more likely to get it, that could help.

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Posted: 07 September 2008 11:09 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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I seem to recall an article in Science News a year or two ago that one copy of this gene (in one in forty caucasian males) made it somewhat less likely to get HIV and to slow the progress of the disease.  One in one hundred and forty had two copies of this gene and appeared to be immune to HIV.  I’m not sure but the article may have said that this version of the gene was absent among Africans and Asians.

Occam

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Posted: 07 September 2008 02:19 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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I saw on tv (for the life of me the show escapes me) but they were detailing a city in Africa and there was a prostitute who they said was immune to the disease, she had been doing that job for like 10 years and there was no way she could be alive otherwise.

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Posted: 09 September 2008 10:14 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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I read an article somewhere more than 5 years ago that a small percentage (@1%) of people seem to have a high resistance to AIDS.  If I remember correctly, they were mostly Nordic in ancestry.  Occam, they mentioned that if you had two parents from this lineage you were immune, if one you were highly resistant so maybe both stories are linked. 

I don’t think there was a definitive answer as to why certain people appear to be immune but the two theories were a developed immunity or simple good luck resulting from an unrelated genetic mutation.

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Posted: 10 September 2008 06:35 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Sorry this isn’t about HIV but its about some research being done on human DNA and how they can trace where you came from within 192 miles by analyzing your DNA markers. I thought it was pretty interesting you should give it a gander.

http://www.popsci.com/future-human/article/2008-09/hunting-your-ancestors-look-no-further-your-genes

mac

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Posted: 10 September 2008 07:54 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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Neat article, Macro. When that testing becomes available to the public it will be very interesting to trace roots. There are several commercial companies at the moment, but their capabilities are generally limited to large geographic regions (by comparison to the test in your article) although they are advancing rapidly.

In a fun twist, you can find out what your mixed breed dog is made of HERE for about $100. While most people order the test out of curiosity, it can be very helpful in giving pet owners a heads up to serious diseases or conditions common to certain breeds, so they can be on the lookout for them.

It can also come in handy if you need to verify your dog is NOT a certain breed for legal reasons. For example, there was a case in our area several years ago where neighbors accused a man of having “wolf hybrid dogs” which are illegal to have as pets in our area. The man was desperately trying to prove in court that his two dogs were Alaskan Malamute/German Shepherd mixes so they would not be ordered euthanized by the judge. If I recall correctly, the judge gave him the benefit of the doubt, because his vet testified on his behalf as to their likely ancestry. But it sure would have been easier for everyone if these tests were available a few years ago! They could have had animal control officers order a cheek swab and wait for a result, rather than drag everyone into court for the day.

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Posted: 11 September 2008 05:03 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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hmm that is interesting, that popsci article made me very curious as to where my family came from, i know im a distant relitive to harry truman but i have no idea where my dads family is from and its made me pretty curious, too bad im not a dog (though some may argue that point)

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Posted: 11 September 2008 07:39 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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There are a few places you could submit a swab to, and find out very general information. But before picking a company read this article the different types of tests available, and their limitations.

http://www.utexas.edu/features/2007/ancestry/

Some important facts from the article include:

“With many of these tests, you’re only tracking one small part of your family tree,” Bolnick says. “For example, a mtDNA test can tell you about only one of your 16 great-great-grandparents. That leaves a huge number of unknowns.”

“...Bolnick finds the tests tend to ignore the fact that many DNA sequences are found in many different human populations. For example, certain DNA sequences may be most common in Native Americans, but they also are found in Asians. As a result, some tests may incorrectly inform someone they have Native American ancestry when their ancestors actually lived in Asia.”

I suspect that in several years time, testing will be greatly improved.

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Posted: 11 September 2008 09:59 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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Yes, I’ve participated in a number of genetic geneaology projects, and so far the resolution is very poor for the historical time frame. We can tell a lot about what general part of the worldwide human migration your ancestors followed, but identifying common ancestors in a genealogical timeframe is still pretty tough. Mitochondrial DNA,  as Jules pointed out, has a pretty poor resolution, and while Y-DNA is a bit better, it is of course limited to men and there’s surprisingly little diversity since a small number of males going back a few thousand years seem to have done the lion’s share of the reproducing.

Anyway, I agree the tests will gradually improve, and if we can ever find a way to use the bulk of the chromosomes despite the porblems of recombination, then we’ll have potentially much better resolution.

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