Aug. 30 , 2022 – Most everyone has played the “separated-at-birth” game, joking that look-alike friends and even celebrities who aren’t related might have a secret shared parentage.
But new research shows it’s no joke that, with some doppelgangers, there is in fact more to the idea than meets the eye. A team of Spanish scientists studied pairs of unrelated look-alikes and found that they not only bear a striking resemblance to each other, but also share significant parts of their DNA.
The findings, published in the journal Cell Reports, suggest those genetic similarities might extend beyond just facial appearance. DNA analysis based on the new work could one day help doctors identify a person’s hidden risks for certain diseases and even help law enforcement officials target criminals through biometric forensics, the researchers say.
But perhaps the most fascinating takeaway is the likelihood that most people on the planet have an unrelated “twin” out there somewhere, says Manel Esteller, PhD, a researcher at the Josep Carreras Leukemia Research Institute in Barcelona, who led the study.
“It’s not unreasonable to assume that you, too, might have a look-alike out there,” he says.
Esteller’s new study grew out of his research into the similarities and differences among identical twins. He was inspired by a photography project by French-Canadian artist Fran?ois Brunelle, who has been taking pictures of unrelated look-alikes worldwide since 1999. His remarkable photographs prompted Esteller to ask: Could DNA explain these look-alike “twins”?
“In 2005 we discovered that brother twins that have the same DNA [also called monozygotic twins] presented epigenetic differences [chemical changes in DNA that regulate how genes are expressed] that explained why there were not perfectly identical,” he explains.
“In the current study, we have explored the other side if the coin: people that have the same face, but they are not family related. These individuals helped answer the longstanding question of how our aspect is determined by nature and/or nurture.”
To answer that question, Esteller’s team recruited 32 pairs of people from Brunelle’s photo sessions to take DNA tests and complete lifestyle questionnaires. The researchers also used facial recognition software to assess their facial similarities from headshots.
They found that 16 of the look-alike pairs had scores on par with those of true identical twins, who were also analyzed by the team’s facial recognition software. Of the look-alike pairs, 13 were of European ancestry, one Hispanic, one East Asian, and one Central-South Asian.
The researchers then examined the DNA of those 16 pairs of look-alikes and found they shared significantly more of their genetic material than the other 16 pairs that the software deemed less similar in appearance – a finding the researchers said was “striking.”
Esteller notes that it would seem to be “common sense” that people who look alike should share “important parts of the genome, or the DNA sequence,” but that had never been scientifically shown – until now, that is.
“We found that the genetic sites shared by the look-alike corresponded to four categories,” he says. “Genes previously reported to be associated with the shape and form of the eyes, lips, mouth, nostril, and other face parts using general population studies; genes involved in bone formation that can relate to the skull shape; genes involved in distinct skin textures; [and] genes involved in liquid retention that can give different volumes to our face.”
While the doppelgangers’ DNA was closely matched, Esteller was surprised to find that the lifestyle surveys – assessing 68 variables – revealed major differences in the 16 pairs of people. These differences were almost certainly due to the environment and other parts of their lives and upbringing (think: “nurture vs. nature”) that didn’t have anything to do with their genetic makeup.
Those differences, he explains, are another sign the similarities in the pairs’ appearances almost certainly have more to do with their shared DNA than other things.
Even so, he found some look-alikes were alike in ways that could be linked to their DNA – such as height and weight, personality traits (such as nicotine addiction), and even educational status (suggesting intelligence might be linked to genes).
“It is said that our face reflects our soul,” Esteller says. “Being less poetic, our look-alike answered a large questionnaire to grasp their physical and behavioral profiles. We observed that those look-alikes with high concordance in the facial algorithms and genetic commonalties not only shared the face, but also other features. …”
So, what explains those genetic similarities? Esteller says it’s likely that it’s chance and coincidence, spurred by population growth, and not a result of some prior, unknown ancestral or familial link. There are, he explains, only so many things that make up human facial features, so it stands to reason that some people – by luck of the draw – will resemble others.
“Because the human population is now 7.9 billion, these look-alike repetitions are increasingly likely to occur,” he says. “Analysing a larger cohort will provide more of the genetic variants shared by these special individual pairs, and could also be useful in elucidating the contribution of other layers of biological data in determining our faces.”
Beyond the weird-science appeal of the study, Esteller believes his findings could help diagnose diseases, using DNA analysis. They might even help police hunt down criminals one day in the future – giving forensic scientists, for instance, the ability to come up with sketches of suspects’ faces based only on DNA samples found at a crime scene.
“Two areas are now very exciting for further development,” he says. “First: Can we infer from the face features the presence of genetic mutations associated with a high risk of developing a disease such as diabetes or Alzheimer’s? Second: Can we now from the genome be able to reconstruct a face that would be extremely useful in forensic medicine? Both avenues of research can now be pursued.”
Hear It From the
For Marissa Munzing and Christina Lee, who took part in the look-alike study, the social implications of Esteller’s research are at least as important as the scientific findings.
Munzing, who has known Lee since they met freshman year at the University of California, Los Angeles 14 years ago, did not expect to find that their DNA was such a close match.
“I was definitely surprised that [we] might have similar DNA, as close to being twins, with my friend,” she said in an email. “How crazy!! And cool! I do call her my ‘twin’ from time to time so I guess it’s really fitting now!”
But knowing we all might have a secret twin out there could help bring people together at a time when Americans and others throughout the world are so deeply divided along class, social, and political lines, she says.
Lee agrees, noting that having a friend with a closely matched genetic profile “and even a similar face” adds to a sense of connection with others we might consider strangers.
“It can be nice to feel like you aren’t alone, even if is just in your looks,” she says.
“We really are more similar and connected to each other than we think,” Munzing says.
WebMD Health News
Manel Esteller, PhD, researcher, Josep Carreras Leukemia Research Institute, Barcelona, Spain.
Cell Reports: “Look-alike humans identified by facial recognition algorithms show genetic similarities.”
CBS News: “Double exposures: Photographing look-alikes.”
The New York Times: “Your Doppelg?nger Is Out There and You Probably Share DNA With Them.”
(C) 2022 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.
Original Post: webmd.com
Congress Under Pressure: Colorado Officials Push for Cannabis Banking Reform
With the end of Congress’ session just around the corner, marijuana advocates, stakeholders and lawmakers continue to push for marijuana banking policy change.
This time, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis (D) joined forces with Lt. Gov. Dianne Primavera (D), Attorney General Phil Weiser (D), Treasurer Dave Young (D) and Department of Public Safety (DPS) Executive Director Stan Hilkey in urging congressional leaders to revisit the issue, reported Marijuana Moment.
In a letter sent on Monday to both House and Senate leaders, Colorado officials focused on the impact which a bipartisan marijuana banking bill will have in terms of public safety and industry equity,
“The lack of safe banking and financial services for the cannabis industry in the State of Colorado has become a dire public safety issue for highly regulated cannabis businesses operating in compliance with state …
Original Post: benzinga.com
New Data Shows Weed Legalization a Boon for Real Estate, New Jobs and Tax Revenue
A new report from the Federal Reserve Bank shed light on the economic impact marijuana legalization has had in recent years, reported Marijuana Moment. Policy changes on the state level have resulted in increased commercial real estate demand, as well as a surge in tax revenues while creating more jobs.
According to an analysis from the Kansas City arm of the Central Bank, which collected data from several states under its jurisdiction, the Tenth Federal Reserve District, the cannabis industry has become one of the main economic sectors positioned to grow substantially in the coming period.
“Overall, the marijuana industry has had a significant effect on the economies of Tenth District states in the initial years after legalization,” the report said. “The emergence of the industry has …
Will Missouri Legalize Cannabis? Amendment 3 Suffers Another Attack This Time by State NAACP
Cannabis legalization efforts in Missouri are under attack once again, this time by The Missouri State Conference of the NAACP.
The Missouri NAACP, breaking with chapters in the St. Louis area is urging its members to vote against Amendment 3 on the Nov. 8 ballot, reported the Saint Louis Post-Dispatch.
The group announced Thursday that it believes recreational marijuana legalization, as it is proposed under Amendment 3, would prevent minorities from entering the cannabis industry.
“Marijuana possession should not be a constitutional crime. Additionally, for years now, Black people, other minorities, and people who have been criminalized by marijuana laws in the past have been unable to enter the medical marijuana market,” the Missouri NAACP wrote. “That is not right. In an effort to prevent the permanent exclusion of minorities from the cannabis industry in the state of Missouri, the NAACP calls upon every voter to reject the criminalization of marijuana possession, de facto racist regulation of the cannabis market, and the wool being pulled over our eyes by the supporters of Amendment 3.”
Under Amendment 3, the first “comprehensive” cannabis business licenses would be provided to existing medical marijuana companies.
The state’s chapter highlighted that the amendment “does not increase the number of available full market licenses” and claims that giving “micro” business licenses to disadvantaged groups makes a “very limited” program.
According to Nimrod “Rod” Chapel Jr., president of the Missouri NAACP, members agreed last week …
Health Care4 months ago
Meet a Champion Climber With Type 1 Diabetes
Health Care11 months ago
The Ancient Origins of Cannabis, According to Science
Health Care11 months ago
Damian Marley Interview: a Reggae Revolution From the Most High
Arts1 year ago
‘It’s a Shoebox’ a Place in the Sun Guests Blast Ben Hillman’s ‘bargain’ Property
Tech1 year ago
Pebblebee Found LTE – the Next Generation GPS Dog Tracker Is Now…
Health Care10 months ago
Flora Growth’s Products Ready for New International Markets
Banks1 year ago
Ideal Credit Union Community Foundation’s 9th Annual Golf Tournament…
Tech1 year ago
VAIO Releases New SX Series, Smartly Engineered for Exceptional User…