Sunday September 22, 2019
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6-inch skeleton found in Chile not of alien: Study

Some of these mutations, though found in genes already known to cause disease, had never before been associated with bone growth or developmental disorders

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The skeleton found was not of an alien. IANS
  • The skeleton found in Chile is not of an alien
  • Instead of an alien, it could be an infant with a bone-ageing disorder
  • The discovery earlier held the interest of many

Ruling out the possibility of the extra-terrestrial origin of a mysterious six-inch skeleton discovered in Chile, scientists have found that it was of a female, likely a foetus, who had a rare, bone-ageing disorder.

Discovered more than a decade ago in an abandoned town in the Atacama Desert, the mummified specimen, nicknamed Ata, started to garner public attention after it found a permanent home in Spain.

Standing just six inches tall with an angular, elongated skull and sunken, slanted eye sockets, the Internet began to bubble with other-worldly hullabaloo and talk of ET. But the analysis by Stanford University School of Medicine scientists suggests that Ata was, without doubt, a human.

Earlier the skeleton was thought to belong to an alien. Pixabay

This was the skeleton of a human female that had suffered severe genetic mutations, according to the study published in the journal published in the Genome Research. Ata, though most likely a foetus, had the bone composition of a six-year-old, an indication that she had a rare, bone-ageing disorder, the study found.

To understand the genetic drivers at play, the researchers extracted a small DNA sample from Ata’s ribs and sequenced the entire genome. The skeleton is approximately 40 years old, so its DNA is modern and still relatively intact. Moreover, data collected from whole-genome sequencing showed that Ata’s molecular composition aligned with that of a human genome.

Wile a small percentage of the DNA was unmatchable with human DNA, that was due to a degraded sample, not extraterrestrial biology, said one of the researchers Garry Nolan, Professor at Stanford. The genomic results confirmed Ata’s Chilean descent and turned up a slew of mutations in seven genes that separately or in combinations contribute to various bone deformities, facial malformations or skeletal dysplasia, more commonly known as dwarfism.

Also Read: Do Aliens Exist? 10 Undeniable Reasons that will make you believe in Aliens!

Some of these mutations, though found in genes already known to cause disease, had never before been associated with bone growth or developmental disorders. Knowing these new mutational variants could be useful, Nolan said, because they add to the repository of known mutations to look for in humans with these kinds of bone or physical disorders.

“For me, what really came of this study was the idea that we shouldn’t stop investigating when we find one gene that might explain a symptom. It could be multiple things going wrong, and it’s worth getting a full explanation, especially as we head closer and closer to gene therapy,” said study co-author Atul Butte of the University of California-San Francisco. IANS

Next Story

DNA Changes May Trigger Cancer Along with Other Age-related Diseases

Experts say they will now explore the link between these DNA changes and biological ageing acceleration

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Scientists have found a way of mapping out human DNA.
Scientists have found a way of mapping out human DNA.
DNA changes throughout a person’s life can significantly increase their susceptibility to heart conditions and other age-related diseases, says a research led by an Indian-origin scientist.
Such alterations — known as somatic mutations — can impact the way blood stem cells work and are associated with blood cancers and other conditions, said scientists from the Universities of Edinburgh and Glasgow.
These somatic mutations and the associated diseases they cause may accelerate a person’s biological age — how old their body appears — faster than their chronological age.
“Previously, somatic mutations have largely been studied in cancer. Our findings suggest they play a role in other diseases, which will change the way we study disease risk,” said Dr Tamir Chandra, Group Leader at the University of Edinburgh’s MRC Human Genetics Unit.
The study, published in the journal Current Biology, examined these changes and their potential effects in more than 1,000 older people from the Lothian Birth Cohorts (LBCs), born in 1921 and 1936.
Cancer
Cancer Ribbon. Pixabay
The LBCs are a group of people – now in their 80s and 90s – who sat intelligence tests as 11-year olds. They are some of the most-intensively studied research participants in the world.
Scientists studied people where the biological and chronological age was separated by a large gap.
They found the participants with somatic mutations – around six per cent – had a biological age almost four years older than those with no alterations.
Experts say they will now explore the link between these DNA changes and biological ageing acceleration. (IANS)