A new genome-wide association study published today in Nature Genetics begins to uncover the basis of genetic variations in eight blood measurements and the impact those variants can have on common human diseases. Blood measurements, including the number and volume of cells in the blood, are routinely used to diagnose a wide range of disorders, including anaemia, infection and blood cell cancers.
Comparing large databases from blood workups with genomic data, the researchers identified several regions that may be responsible for things like diabetes and heart disease. One nifty little tidbit is that these regions were positively selected for in European populations about 3400 years ago, possibly because they conferred protection against infection.
I wonder what epidemic was running throughout europe about 1400 BC?