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Isolated Variants

Researchers have uncovered a variant among Greek villagers that appears to protect them from cardiovascular disease, the Daily Mail reports.

A team from the UK's Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute and Harokopio University in Greece sequenced the genomes of 250 people from Mylopotamos, on Crete. As it reports in Nature Communications, the team uncovered variants more common among Mylopotamos villagers that affect lipid traits. Despite a diet heavy in animal fat, villagers there have low rates of heart disease, the Daily Mail notes. These variants were only found in a few people outside the village.

"By studying isolated populations, we are able to identify those genetic variants that are at a higher frequency compared to cosmopolitan populations and this in turn increases our power to detect if these variants are disease causing," the Wellcome Trust's Lorraine Southam says in a statement. "With isolated populations, we can get a unique view into rare genetic variants that play important roles in complex human diseases."

She and her colleagues also examined DNA samples from Pomak villagers from the mountainous region of Greece to find four genetic variants that affect diastolic blood pressure, fasting glucose levels, white blood cell count, and hemoglobin levels.