They used to live in caves, hunt for their food, and were generally tougher than modern humans.
However, a new study shows that if you have Neanderthal genes, you are twice as likely to develop a life-threatening form of Covid.
DNA from the species, which became extinct about 40,000 years ago, is linked to autoimmune diseases, type 2 diabetes and prostate cancer.
A team of Italian researchers found that people with three Neanderthal gene variations were twice as likely to develop severe pneumonia and three times as likely to be hospitalized on a ventilator after contracting the virus.
While the results were part of an experiment, commercial ancestry tests allow people to examine how much Neanderthal DNA they have.
People who developed life-threatening forms of Covid may have inherited genes from their Neanderthal ancestors, according to a new study. Pictured is a statue that looks like a Neanderthal
Neanderthals were close human ancestors who died mysteriously about 40,000 years ago.
The species lived with early humans in Africa for thousands of years before moving to Europe about 300,000 years ago.
They were later joined by humans who arrived in Eurasia about 48,000 years ago and mated, resulting in some genes appearing in humans today.
The new study, published in the journal iScience, was led by researchers at the nonprofit Mario Negri Institute for Pharmacological Research.
The team analyzed a sample of nearly 1,200 people in the province of Bergamo, where the epicenter of the pandemic was at the beginning of 2020.
Scientists found that 33 percent of people in Bergamo with the Neanderthal haplotype, a set of DNA variants along a single chromosome that tend to be inherited together, developed severe cases of Covid.
In March 2020 alone, 670 people died in the city of 120,000 inhabitants and almost 6,000 people died in the province of the same name – five to six times as many as usual at this time of year
More than 75 percent of participants were born in the province of Bergamo, which was chosen as a sampling region due to the severe cases and deaths related to Covid.
In March 2020 alone, 670 people died in the city of 120,000 inhabitants and almost 6,000 people died in the province of the same name – five to six times as many as usual at this time of year.
The team ran an ORIGN test during the experiment, breaking down each subject’s ancestry.
The three variants were identified on chromosome 3, the so-called 3p21.31 locus.
“The lead variant at this locus lies in an intron of LZTFL1 and is associated with markers spanning a group of inflammatory genes, including CCR9, CXCR6 and XCR1,” the study says.
A 2020 study found similar results, saying that having Neanderthal genes could increase the risk of severe Covid-19 disease.
In a study of 3,199 hospitalized patients with coronavirus in Italy and Spain, researchers found that the genetic signature was linked to more severe disease.
Lead author Professor Hugo Zeberg, from Karolinska Institutet in Sweden, said: “The increased risk is 60 to 70 percent if you carry one copy of the Neanderthal variant, and three times the risk if you have two copies – one from your father and one from your father.” one from your mother.
“Subsequent studies suggest that the increase in risk is even higher, with a double risk if you have one copy and up to a five-fold increase if you have two copies.”
The gene variant was first found about 50,000 years ago in the remains of a Neanderthal in Croatia and is still found in millions of modern humans.
Not everyone has this variant – it is most common in people of South Asian descent, about 50 percent of whom are affected by it.
This difference may contribute to the different levels of Covid-19 severity observed between different population groups.
It is less common in Europe, where about 16 percent of people wear it.
Bangladesh has the highest number of airlines at 63 percent.