The genetic mutations that harm our health may also make us more stupid, new research has revealed. A study found smart people have fewer genetic mutations that negatively affect intelligence and health, rather than having more mutations that make them smarter.
This suggests that being born with few bad mutations could be more important to being smart than having lots of mutations that have a positive effect on intelligence. Scientists said the results could be used to guide gene editing – as ‘fixing’ these mutations could make people healthier and smarter at the same time.
Experts hailed the discovery as ‘one of the most exciting studies on the genetics of intelligence’ in recent times.To address this, researchers from the University of Edinburgh analysed genetic data from 20,000 people taking part in a study called Generation Scotland, the New Scientist reports.
The researchers used statistical techniques to work out the effect of rare genetic mutations on intelligence. Because these genetic variants are so rare, previous studies have missed their possible effects.
They found that these rare genetic mutations could be the missing link that can help us explain why some people are much more intelligent than others. Scientists suggested the discovery of these negative mutations could one day inform human gene editing.
Using advanced genetic techniques, scientists could theoretically ‘delete’ these mutations from our DNA. By doing this, we could make ourselves smarter and healthier at the same time.
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