The Unexamined Life

Are Mutants Real? Scientists Say Yes And Why

Mutants exist and you might be one of them. That is according to a new study that found some parents can pass more mutations to their children, a process that may be happening in different populations. 

But before you start exploring your body to find special capabilities, what the researchers discovered is not like the X-Men. You are not going to be telekinetic, invisible or color blue. 

The new study, published in the journal eLife, shows that some children are born with genetic mutations two times higher than others. The average number at birth are 70 new genetic mutations. 

The researchers at the University of Utah Health said the age of a child's parents and family history are the two main factors that may increase genetic mutations. They found that a child born to a father who is 35 years old is more likely to get more mutations than a sibling born to the same parents in mid-20s.

"This shows that we as parents are not all equal in this regard," Aaron Quinlan, senior study author and a professor of human genetics at U of U health, said in a statement

But having extra mutations will not give you extra capabilities. Quinlan said it may increase the risk of having serious diseases.

The findings come from the analysis of genes of 603 individuals from 33 three-generation families in Utah. The participants were part of the Centre d'Etude du Polymorphisme Humain (CEPH) consortium. 

Quinlan said many families involved in the study appeared with a large number of mutations. The researchers said it may be because of the similarities shared by the participants, including European ancestry, living in the same geographic region, similar lifestyles and environmental exposures.

The extra mutations may come from either the fathers' sperm or the mothers' eggs. But the researchers were surprised that some new mutations appeared after fertilization and not from the parents. 

Quinlan said the combination of genetics, environment and exposure to mutagens may play a role in the development of mutations while in the womb. He added the "variability in mutation rates worldwide must be much, much larger."

More studies are also needed to understand how increased mutations directly contribute to the development of certain diseases. 

dna A new study shows that some children are born with genetic mutations two times higher than others, which may increase their risk of having diseases. Pixabay

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