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A team of geneticists and archaeologists have analysed the fine-scale genetic structure and ancestry of nearly 1200 people from the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and found genetic traces of population mixing spanning thousands of years.

Strands of human DNA

The research team from Oxford University and the Imperial College London Diabetes Centre Abu Dhabi (ICLDC) think that these genetic traces reflect the movement of people in the Middle East after major cultural transitions, such as the invention of agriculture, as well as desertification of the region in the past 6,000 years.

The research team (including University of Birmingham researcher), co-led by Professor Houman Ashrafian from Oxford University’s Radcliffe Department of Medicine, think that the unique family histories within the United Arab Emirates will make it easier to spot otherwise rare genetic variants related to diseases such as type 2 diabetes. This means that geneticists could potentially use this population as a microcosm to find and understand otherwise difficult-to-find genes related to metabolic diseases.

Read the full story on the University of Oxford website

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