May 16, 2023

DNA News in May 2023 - Ancient-human genome count surpasses 10,000. The Story of China’s Largest Genealogy Collection, and more.

Welcome to this month's edition of DNA News! We're excited to share some fascinating stories and breakthroughs in DNA research.
Tomohiro Takano

1. Medieval Swahilis had African and Asian ancestry: DNA study

Researchers say up to half of the DNA of people from Swahili areas was from Persia (90 percent) and India (10 percent). from Aljazeera, 29 Mar 2023

The first DNA study of the medieval Swahili civilization reveals that Africans and Asians were intermingling along the East African coast more than a thousand years ago. Researchers sequenced the DNA of 80 people who lived in Swahili areas from 1250 to 1800 CE, finding that up to half of the DNA was from predominantly male migrants from southwestern Asia. The study confirms ancient oral histories about the shared ancestry of Swahili people and emphasizes that the hallmarks of Swahili civilization predated the arrivals from abroad.

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2. 'It totally backfired': The pitfalls of Alzheimer's genetic testing

Wendy Nelson's 23andMe DNA test revealed she carries two copies of the APOE4 gene variant, which increases her risk of developing Alzheimer's disease by eight to 12 times. from Reuters, April 22 2023

The increase in Alzheimer's genetic testing is driven by new treatments that promise to slow the disease's progression. However, few support services are available to help individuals deal with the implications of APOE4 testing, leaving Alzheimer's patients and caregivers with a shortage of genetic counselors to navigate the psychological, medical, financial, and legal consequences of testing.

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3. Family Records: The Story of China’s Largest Genealogy Collection

In the 1960s, a city librarian went rogue and saved thousands of priceless documents. from SIXTH TONE, Apr 11, 2023

The Shanghai Library houses the world's largest collection of Chinese genealogies, with over 300,000 volumes of nearly 40,000 different genealogies covering 456 surnames. These historical documents record family lineages, relationships, assets, customs, and more. Shanghai librarian Gu Tinglong saved a significant portion of the library's genealogies from destruction during the 1960s. The library has since collaborated with the International Genealogical Index, a global nonprofit genealogy research organization, to compile the Comprehensive Catalogue of Chinese Genealogies and make its collection accessible to researchers worldwide.

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4. Ancient-human genome count surpasses 10,000

The majority of sequences come from people who lived in Western Eurasia, but samples from other regions are on the rise. from Nature, 24 April 2023

In just 13 years since the first genome sequence from an ancient human was published, scientists have generated genome data from more than 10,000 ancient people. The Allen Ancient DNA Resource database, maintained by David Reich's team at Harvard Medical School, chronicles this data. Advances in DNA sequencing and extraction methods have significantly increased the rate of genome data production. Although most ancient-human genomes come from Western Eurasia, sampling from East Asia, Oceania, and Africa is increasing, contributing to greater global diversity in ancient genomics.

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5. DNA confirms woman was on famed 17th century Swedish warship Vasa

A U.S. military laboratory has helped Swedes confirm that a woman was on a 17th-century warship that sank on its maiden voyage in the Stockholm harbor. from ABC News, 4 April 2023

The U.S. Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory has confirmed that a woman was among the 30 people who died when the 17th-century Swedish royal warship Vasa sank on its maiden voyage. The wreck was raised in 1961 and is now displayed in the Vasa Museum in Stockholm. Although women were not part of the Swedish navy crew in the 17th century, they could be on board as guests, suggesting that she was likely a seaman's wife. The Vasa Museum collaborated with Uppsala University and the U.S. military laboratory to analyze the skeletons found on the Vasa.

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Tomohiro Takano
Tomohiro Takano
Co-Founder and CEO