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258[afgen] Scientists trace group of Afrikaners with Parkinson?s to common ancestor

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  • rodg@tiscali.co.za
    Jul 1, 2014
      Hi Steve,
      Thanks a lot for this article, it is very very interesting. For those with strong ties to the Afrikaner nation, is it permitted to know which families these are?
      Rod g

      From: afgen@yahoogroups.com
      Sent: 2014/07/01 11:20:12 AM
      To: afgen@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: RE: [afgen] Scientists trace group of Afrikaners with Parkinson?s to common ancestor

      Scientists trace group of Afrikaners with Parkinson’s to common ancestor
      by Tamar Kahn, 20 June 2014, 08:42


      LOCAL scientists have traced the origin of Parkinson’s disease in 40
      Afrikaner families back through the generations to a Dutch-German couple who
      married in South Africa in 1668.

      The work will not immediately help patients with this debilitating condition,
      but it is expected to help researchers home in on some of the genetic defects
      that give rise to the disorder, which in turn could lead to new treatments.

      Parkinson’s disease is a neuro-degenerative disorder caused by the death of
      key brain cells responsible for the manufacture of a chemical called dopamine
      that sends messages to the body’s muscles.

      As the brain produces less dopamine, movement becomes more difficult, leading
      to tremors and a shuffling gait seen in many patients. It affects about 4-
      million people worldwide, according to the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation,
      and is incurable.

      While there are no detailed statistics on its prevalence in South Africa,
      scientists know that it is relatively common among Afrikaners because of the
      settlement patterns of their immigrant ancestors.

      In early generations in South Africa, a small number of relatively isolated
      immigrants lived close together and often married relatives, thus
      concentrating defective genes in today’s populations.

      This "founder effect" is well documented for other diseases. For example, the
      rate of a hereditary form of high cholesterol is more common in South African
      Jewish, Afrikaner and Indian populations, where it is 1 in 80, than it is in
      the general population worldwide, where it is about 1 in 500 people.

      Many modern-day Afrikaners can trace their family trees back to the mid-
      1600s, thanks to church records that documented baptisms and marriages.

      Researchers from the University of Stellenbosch traced the genealogy of the
      families of 48 Parkinson’s patients at the Movement Disorder Clinic at
      Tygerberg Hospital and found 40 of them were descended from a man who came to
      South Africa from the Netherlands in 1661 and a German woman who arrived with
      her family in the late 1650s.

      "People didn’t move around very much in those days. South Africa was like a
      small island. There were two key founder effects for Afrikaners: people
      arrived with Jan van Riebeeck in the Cape, and then migrated north during the
      Great Trek," said John Carr, a neurologist at the University of Stellenbosh,
      and co-author of a paper describing the research published this month in the
      South African Medical Journal.

      The fact that 40 families with Parkinson’s disease share a common ancestor
      makes it likely that they also shared common genetic characteristics that
      gave rise to the condition. Although scientists had identified a handful of
      faulty genes that were implicated in Parkinson’s disease, they accounted for
      a very small fraction of patients with the disorder, said Prof Carr. "In 95%
      of patients with neuro-degenerative conditions like Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s
      and motor neurone disease, we still don’t have a clue what causes it," he

      The next step would be to map the genetic blueprint of 15 patients from these
      families with Parkinson’s disease, and look for common variants among them,
      said Prof Carr.

      Steve Hayes
      E-mail: shayes@...
      Blog: http://khanya.wordpress.com
      Web: http://www.khanya.org.za/stevesig.htm
      Phone: 083-342-3563 or 012-333-6727
      Fax: 086-548-2525

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