Chinese Gene Mapping Links Dialects, Disease
Study of 8,200 Chinese from north and south shows .3% variation
By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 30, 2009 3:40 PM CST
A Chinese woman receives medical care in Beijing.   (AP Photo)

(Newser) – A massive gene study of ethnic Chinese in the north and south of the country has revealed key divergences that correspond to dialect groups and could account for some hereditary diseases. The study of 8,200 people from 10 provinces and Singapore found significant variation in .3% of the genome, with possible links to a genetic predisposition to maladies like nasopharyngeal cancer, prevalent in the south but not in the north.

The researchers also found genetic variation among different dialect groups—“language is a reflection of our evolution, that's why you see the differences” a researcher says—and among sufferers of certain autoimmune diseases. “We look at where these variants are located and we are able to nail the genes”; now they'll be studied to see what they're responsible for and whether they have clinical applications.