Northern Ireland

NI volunteers needed for genetic map of British Isles

Neanderthals
Neanderthals interbred with humans and their genes are scattered among us today

A team of scientists is visiting Northern Ireland later as part of a bid to draw up a genetic map of the British Isles.

"The People of the British Isles" is a Wellcome Trust funded project.

In the first phase, researchers collected blood samples from more than 4,000 people across the United Kingdom.

Now they want to take 3-D photographs and have made an appeal for more volunteers to come forward and help them.

"Importantly, volunteers were recruited for whom all four grandparents were born in the same rural area, parish or within a 40-mile radius as this meant that the volunteer was then a good representative of the region," one of the organisers said.

"Since then we have moved into the second phase of our project and are appealing to those volunteers who have already supplied a blood sample to come forward to see us and have a 3D facial photograph taken to complete the project.

"Letters have been sent out and a response would be welcome."

The DNA from the samples will be used to create a genetic map of the British Isles.

It could aid research into genetic susceptibility to common diseases such as cancer and diabetes.

It will also enable the scientists to look at the impact of historical invasions, such as those by the Vikings and Anglo-Saxons.

The study is anonymous.

Volunteers are kept informed about the progress of the research through annual newsletters.

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