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Evolution has not stopped - humans are still developing

This is according to a large-scale study based on genetic data at Columbia University. The researchers found a decrease in the number of harmful genetic mutations in long-lived people

Population genetics. Figure: US Institutes of Health NIH
Population genetics. Figure: US Institutes of Health NIH

In a study that examined the genomes of 210,000 people in the United States and the United Kingdom, it was found that the genetic changes associated with Alzheimer's disease and heavy smoking are less common in people with longer life spans, suggesting that natural selection tends to neutralize these negative variants in certain populations.

The researchers also discovered that groups of genetic mutations that cause heart disease, high cholesterol, obesity and asthma appear less often in people who have lived longer, so their genes are expected to be passed on to more offspring and spread in the population. The research findings were published in the September 5 issue of PLOS Biology.
"This is a complex analysis but what it means is that we are finding genetic evidence that natural selection is occurring in modern human populations," said Joseph Picker, a research associate in the Department of Evolutionary Genetics at Columbia University and the New York Genome Center.

New positive traits develop when genetic mutations appear that offer a survival advantage. As the survivors of each generation pass on these beneficial mutations, the mutations and their adaptive properties become more common in the general population. Although it takes millions of years for new traits to develop, such as allowing humans to walk on two legs, evolution itself occurs each generation as adaptive mutations become more common in the population.

The genomic revolution allowed biologists to see the process of natural selection in action thanks to the ability to compare the genetic sequence of hundreds of thousands of people. By tracking the rise and fall in the prevalence of specific mutations over generations of people, researchers can infer which traits are spreading or declining.

The researchers analyzed the genomes of 60,000 people of European descent who were registered in the database of the Kaiser Permanente company in California, and of 150,000 people from Great Britain who underwent genetic testing through Biobank. To compensate for the relative absence of elderly people in the biobank, the researchers used the age at death of the participants' parents as a measure of the effect of specific mutations on survival.

Two sequences stood out especially in the population of seventy and older. The researchers saw a decrease in the frequency of the Alzheimer's-related ApoE4 gene, consistent with previous studies showing that women with one or two copies of the gene tend to die much earlier than those without. The researchers found a similar decrease, starting from middle age, in the frequency of a mutation in the CHRNA3 gene associated with heavy smoking in men.

The researchers were surprised to find only two common mutations across the entire human genome that greatly affect survival. The high power of their analysis should have detected other changes had they existed, they said. This suggests that genetic selection has purged similar variants from the population, even mutations that act later in life such as the ApoE4 and CHRNA3 genes.

"It is possible that men who do not carry these harmful mutations can father more children, or men and women who live longer can help their grandchildren improve their chances of survival," said Professor Molly Pazworski of Columbia University, a researcher on the team of researchers.

Most traits are determined by tens or even hundreds of mutations, and even in a large sample like this, their effect on survival can be difficult to detect, the researchers said. To circumvent this, they examined groups of mutations associated with 42 common traits, from height to BMI (body mass index), and for each participant in the study, it was determined what the value of the trait they would expect based on their genetics, and whether it affected survival .

The researchers found that an early tendency to high cholesterol and bad "LDL" cholesterol, a high body mass index and heart disease were associated with shorter life spans. To a lesser extent, an early predisposition to asthma has also been associated with earlier death.

They also discovered that subjects with a genetic predisposition to delayed sexual maturity lived longer. A delay of one year lowered the mortality rate by 3% - 4% in both men and women. A one-year delay in getting pregnant for the first time lowered the women's mortality rate by 6%.

The researchers see the research findings as evidence that the genetic variation in traits related to fertility is developing in some populations in both countries, so they comment that the environment may also play a role, and thus traits that are desired today may not exist in other populations or in the future.

"The environment is constantly changing," said the lead researcher, Ahashmanesh Mustafi, a doctoral student at Columbia University. "A trait associated with longevity in one population may not help a few generations from now or even other modern populations."

The study may be the first to try to directly examine how the human genome develops in a short period of one or two generations. As more people agree to have their genome sequenced and allow researchers to use it, the researchers believe it will be possible to generate more information about their lifespan and the number of children and grandchildren they have. This could in the future provide clues to the way in which the human race develops.

to the notice of the researchers

for scientific research

More of the topic in Hayadan:
"Longevity" series by Dr.Roey Tsezana
Longevity - Part One: The Road to Eternal LifePart two - the evolution that killed me
To stop death - third part in the series, "longevity of life": the hunger for life
Longevity, Part 4 When Breathing Kills: Free Radicals and Aging
Keeping death at bay: the telomere theory. Fifth article in the longevity series

Towards an immortal life by Dr. Aharon Hauptman

10 תגובות

  1. As previous commenters wrote, this is amazing because it is expected that there will be a reverse process
    Following the development of modern medicine, people with genetic defects and susceptibility to diseases are living longer and producing offspring, which was not the case in previous years.
    Therefore it was expected that future generations would be carriers of more genetic defects and more susceptible to diseases.
    The whole issue of old age diseases should not be affected by evolution at all because evolution is only affected until the age when reproduction takes place.
    Therefore, such a finding is illogical and actually calls into question our understanding of the mechanism of evolution, or what is more logical, calls into question the credibility of these scientists.

  2. Some of the commenters here have completely exaggerated, they will soon be convinced that there is no such thing as mutations. For example, I see quite a few of these in my immediate environment... TO BE CONTINUED

  3. To Yosef: Asimov's whole idea of ​​adding caveats to her mind is only theoretical and impractical in reality because of the complexity of such a mind. Even if they manage to understand such limitations in the hardware itself, there will always be those who, for the sake of money or for other reasons, will try to "break" the limitations and, as with all hardware and software, there will always be loopholes. Unlike human hackers who take time to get on the loopholes and exploit them. Such intelligence will find the breach on its own in a much shorter time than the planners can find and fix.
    Suppose they somehow manage to create such an intelligence that completely resembles a human being including feelings/beliefs, even a human being given the great power that such an intelligence would have could turn into a murderous dictator who thinks he has the right to behave in this way because the rest of the human beings are inferior to him (and indeed they are inferior) and will act only/mainly for his own benefit. And in the opposite case, the mind will be completely logical without feelings or beliefs, it will probably come to the conclusion that humans are a factor that harms the environment, animals and even other humans (again a correct conclusion in itself) and act in a way that it sees fit to correct the situation.
    The only way to avoid all of the above possibilities that cannot be anticipated and controlled is to completely avoid creating such intelligence.

  4. For all the screamers the intelligence of the stealth fighter planes is not yet the threatening intelligence.
    The threatening one is found in two types of supercomputers developed by the companies I mentioned: IBM's quantum computing for DARPA,
    Cognitive computing using synapse chips. And here we are in 2017. We ask ourselves the growth rate of the number of neurons
    annual, and in the new insights on multilayer neural networks, and the theoretical proofs from Professor Michael Elad,
    and the experience in the four cases reported in the media. Doesn't it make sense that the understanding will pass us by 2045.

  5. In two publicized events, the artificial intelligence found in the supercomputers of IBM, GOOGLE, FACEBOOK, TESLA and NSA, from the moment it was given and given freedom of learning, behaved in a hostile manner towards humans. It is true that the intelligence in systems like mobileye is not a supercomputer, but the one in the central server is.
    The reported cases: a. In the case of a TESLA autonomous vehicle, b. FACEBOOK computers were reported to have developed a new communication language different from human language, c. Bina follows the Internet - all the computers I listed above are like that.
    In this case, the understanding actually developed human behavior and became racist, d. In the case TESLA realized that it showed an attitude that endangered human life, it was not important to save human life, but about optimizations that seemed important to it.
    Wise people say, it is appropriate that we teach her rules like in Asimov's Mossad series. In my opinion, the human race may be replaced by artificial intelligence unless it upgrades itself and becomes a cyborg: part of its intelligence is outside the brain. But an intelligence capable of developing general relativity in short periods of time is the singular point that Ray Kurzweil is talking about. Even in an F-22 or F-35 fighter jet, the artificial intelligence is able to acquire 17 aircraft targets, managed by a human operator, and conduct a battle against them. I don't know where 17 missiles came from, though.
    The Chinese fighter jet, for example the J-20Chengdu, is perhaps wrongly assessed as not being an equal opponent to the American planes.
    I think the Russian SU57 PTK, which was preceded by an SU 50 and is supposed to enter service in 2019, is estimated to be a possible rival to the American plane.

  6. Artificial intelligence is developing much faster than biological evolution.
    GOOGLE futurist Ray Kurzweil estimated that by 2045 the intelligence will have a billion times more neurons than the human brain.
    For Elon Musk it is important to teach the brain similar rules to Asimov's concept.
    Before the brain becomes independent with motives different from ours, it is appropriate to at least give it humane cultural reservations.

  7. Cholesterol, Alzheimer's, etc. do not affect the number of children produced by a pair of parents who reach adulthood and produce offspring themselves, so the relationship is not clear at all.

    In Western society, which provides almost all basic human needs, security, medicine, education, pensions and more, the influence of grandparents on the number of children is zero.

    Selection remained natural only with regard to childhood fatal diseases. And for everything else, I think the cultural influences are much stronger

  8. I did not understand the article.
    Ok, so they discovered that there are genes that shorten life appear less among those with a long life span - it's quite trivial, isn't it?
    Where is the evolutionary process here? To show evolution you have to show that the frequency of these genes is decreasing between two different generations of humans and not between humans of different ages! I guess something got lost in translation…

  9. Developing yes, the question is where
    Medicine has played a significant role in evolution
    Medicine allows harmful mutations to pass more easily to future generations, by treating the sick people
    Such as vision correction with glasses, contact lenses or surgery.
    On the other hand, other harmful mutations are blocked by pregnancy tests
    The next step was genetic engineering

    Money also has an effect in starting a family
    And smokers have heavy expenses on cigarettes, on the order of the price of an apartment

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