About 5% of Pennsylvania Amish have a rare genetic mutation that makes them less susceptible to cardiovascular disease, Reuters reports. A new study shows that the 5% lack a second copy of a gene that inhibits the breakdown of harmful fats, or triglycerides, in the bloodstream that can harden and narrow arteries. Researchers hope to develop targeted drugs from the study.
“The Old Order Amish are ideal for genetic research because they are a genetically homogenous people who trace their ancestry back 14 generations,” one of the researchers said. They also think the mutation, which is thought to be absent or extremely rare in the rest of the population, sprung from one person in the 18th century.