Ancient gene mutations passed down from Neanderthals to humans may explain why Latinos are nearly twice as likely to develop type 2 diabetes than any other U.S. racial group, NPR reports. Geneticists at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Germany sequenced the Neanderthal genome from a fossil. They found mutations that looked very similar to the modern human diabetes disease sequence. The research team then compared this part of the Neanderthal genome with DNA from several races, including more than 8,000 residents of Mexico and Latin America. They found that nearly half of them carried these ancient diabetes gene mutations, compared with 20 percent of Asians, and only 2 percent of European Americans. Scientists claim the new genetic findings may help lead to more community-based treatments for the disease as well as help explain almost a quarter of the difference in type 2 diabetes prevalence among Latinos versus whites.

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