Tomsk scientists to find cold tolerance gene

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Results of the research will be used for the Arctic exploration, and Arctic medicine.

Scientists of the Tomsk Institute of Medical Genetics will compare genomes of northern people and those of residents of southern Russia and the CIS. They plan to found out what affects a person’s ability to endure the cold weather, deputy director of the Institute for research activities Vadim Stepanov told TASS.

“We’re trying to find genetic markers that are related to climate adaptation, in particular, to the cold, i.e. those genome regions that somehow modify metabolic processes in the body, adapting the organism to the cold weather. These processes had been developing through history during the human settlement,” said the scientist.

The scientists had been collecting genetic material during expeditions to the Far North, southern areas of Russia, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan. When comparing the genomes scientists can figure out which genome regions with its evolutionary changes helped people adapt to the conditions of the Far North, and which processes in the body were affected, for example, cold tolerance, energy production, active metabolism.

“We will be able to use the results of the research, for instance, for the Arctic exploration, Arctic medicine. We will be able to test people working there for possible health problems, the way their bodies are adapted to the climate,” explained Stepanov.

Research is being conducted by the first Russian developmental biology laboratory, established by the Tomsk State University and the Institute of Medical Genetics. In 2015-2017, the project is supported by the Russian Foundation for Basic Research and the Mendeleev Foundation, which have allocated 3 million rubles ($57.3 thousand – ed). Tomsk scientists collaborate with the Yakutsk Scientific Center and the Department of Bioinformatics, University of Southern California (Los Angeles).

Text and pictures by TASS