chitral today

Kho people of Chitral developing resistance to cancer: research report

Ashfaq Yusufzai

PESHAWAR: Researchers have found that Kho people of Chitral are developing resistance to cancer due to their DNA and genome amid high prevalence of risk factors for the disease in the region.

They have called for wide-ranging studies to ascertain if they have got immunity to fight the disease.

Many genes involved in cancer show natural selection trend in Kho people of Chitral, possibly a biological mechanism to combat cancer disease, according to a five-year study conducted by Abdul Wali Khan University, Mardan.

Recently published in European Journal of Human Genetics, the study was meant to investigate genetic ancestry of Kho people of Chitral by a team, including Dr Asifullah Khan, Dr Shahid Aziz, Hizbullah Khan, Komal Zeb and Kiran Nigar of department of biochemistry, AWKUM. 

It said that that Kho people might combat cancer burden due to their genome and physiology but on other hand, they stood exposed to the disease due to existence of causative factors in ecosystem. 

The study was initiated in 2016. It involved 116 persons including men and women aging between 25 to 35 years. It was completed in collaboration with Prof Luca Pagani from University of Padova, Italy, Prof Shao-Qing Wen from Fudan University, Shanghai China, and Prof Qasim Ayub from Monash University, Malaysia.

It has recommended genome-wide association studies in large cohort from Kho, one of the major ethnic groups residing in Chitral predominantly, to know if the disease is prevalent among them or they have developed resistance at wider scale.

The findings of the study showed that genes of several people played role in development of immune responses, which might be an adaptation against pathogenic microbes’ infection. Cancer pathogenesis genes and underlie selection in Kho might reflect their adaptive response to increase exposure to ultraviolet radiation at high altitude in Hindu Kush mountainous range.

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