Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Got Dry Earwax? Blame your gene!

People of African and European ancestry have predominantly wet earwax. Asians, Inuit and Native North Americans have predominantly dry earwax, as they have a gene that prevents cerumen from mixing with their earwax.

Researchers identified a gene that alters the shape of a channel that controls the flow of molecules that directly affect earwax type. They found that many East Asians have a mutation in this gene that prevents cerumen, the molecule that makes earwax wet, from entering the mix.

Scientists believe that the mutation reached high frequencies in Northeast Eurasia and, following a population increase, expanded over the rest of the continent. Today distribution of the gene is highest in North China and Korea

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