A Unique Gene Protects the Heart of the Residents of Mylopotamos, Crete

Anogia, Mylopotamos, Crete. Photo: Eurokinissi, Giorgos Papanikolaou

RETHYMNO, Crete (ANA) – Greek and British scientists discovered a gene that protects the heart of the residents of the villages of Mylopotamos, Rethymno prefecture on Crete.

In their research, the scientists have analyzed the genome of 250 inhabitants of those villages.
Although the inhabitants of Mylopotamos eat animal fats, their health is good and they usually live for many years. That is why scientists wanted to shed more light on the genetic profile of these people.

Researchers at Britain’s largest genetics institute, Wellcome Trust Sanger, led by the Greek Professor of Genetics Epidemiology, Eleftheria Zeggini, who made the publication in Nature Communications, created a genetic portrait of the inhabitants of Mylopotamos, analyzing sample DNA of 250 inhabitants.
It was the first time that the entire genome of the inhabitants of the area was analyzed, and these data were combined with genetic data for 3,200 inhabitants, which were already known.

Scientists have discovered a new gene variant (rs145556679), not yet known, that has cardioprotective properties. Thanks to this gene, a person naturally has lower levels of “bad” cholesterol (LDL) and lower levels of “bad” lipids (triglycerides). This reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease for anyone with this gene, even if he does not follow a particularly healthy diet.

This variation of this gene is probably found only in Mylopotamos population. To date, genetic analyses in thousands of Europeans have revealed a single copy of this gene to only one person in Tuscany, Italy. A different variant of the same gene has been found to be associated with lower triglycerides in the Amish population, USA.