Mysterious ‘Viking Disease’ linked to Neanderthal DNA

Dupuytren’s contracture, often called “Viking Disease,” is a disorder in which fingers are bent or frozen.

The study, published June 14 in the journal Molecular Biology and Evolution, finds gene variants that were inherited from Neanderthals that dramatically increase the odds of developing the condition, officially called Dupuytren’s disease.,

Dupuytren’s disease is a crippling hand disorder named after a French surgeon, in which the fingers, typically the ring and little fingers, become permanently locked in a bent position.

It typically afflicts about 30% of men over 60 years in Northern Europe and seems to run in families.

Previous work on Dupuytren’s implicated the EPDR1 gene; this gene encodes ependymal-related 1 protein, which plays a role in muscle contractility.

The study has implications for future targeted therapy, Zeberg said.

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