These Gene Mutations Gave Some People Super Powers

Ever wonder why you look like your mom or
dad? Or why your eyes are a certain color? Well, it’s all about your genes. Genes contain de-oxy-ri-bonucleic acid, commonly
referred to as DNA, and DNA is the hereditary material found in the nucleus of our cells. It contains our individual cellular signature
and determines skin color, gender, and hair color as well as whether or not we have certain
genetic diseases. More than 99% of our genetic information is
exactly the same as every other person, but it’s the 1% in which we all differ where
things get very interesting. Welcome to this episode of The Infographics
Show: 10 Genetic Mutations that Turned People into Superheroes. We’ve all heard about The X-Men, a mutant
subspecies of humans who are born with superhuman abilities activated by the X Gene. These mutations give them superpowers, that
include everything from superhuman strength, agility, and endurance, to the ability to
absorb the memories, personality, and skills of another person. Ok, so that’s Hollywood and those mutations
are pretty awesome. What about real life genetic mutations? Today we bring you our list of 10 real life
mutations that make people superhuman. 10. Supertaster – Yes, some people out there have
a super tongue for super tasting. There are non-tasters, average tasters, and
about a quarter of the population tastes food way more intensely than the rest of us. If you have more than 30 taste buds in a space
the size of a hole punch on your tongue, then you are a supertaster. Women are more than twice as likely to be
supertasters than men. A supertaster is more likely to put milk and
sugar in bitter coffee, or avoid fatty foods. Scientists say the reason for these super-tasting
tongues is due to genes, specifically one called TAS2R38, the bitter-taste receptor
gene. Supertasters tend to dislike strong, bitter
foods like raw broccoli, grapefruit juice, coffee and dark chocolate- so go and do a
taste test with your friends and find out which of you are supertasters. 9. Super-sleeper – Many of us think winning the
genetic lottery is eating as many doughnuts as you want and still fitting into those skinny
jeans, but what if I told you there are people who only need to sleep a few hours every night
and will still wake up bright eyed and alert? There is a rare genetic mutation that does
just that, as it allows those with the gene to function at their best with a sub-standard
amount of sleep. Dr. Mehdi Tafti, a professor at the Center
for Integrative Genomics, estimates that only 1% of people who routinely sleep fewer hours
have the genetic mutation. Short-sleeping habits may run in the family,
and scientists hope to learn how to harness this ability so it can be used to help people
switch up their sleeping routines, resulting in increased mental well being. 8. Super Sprint – It’s well known that Olympic
sprint podiums have long been dominated by athletes of West African descent, and the
explanation is likely part genetic, relating to a gene known as the ACTN3 gene. David Epstein, author of the New York Times
bestselling book The Sports Gene: Inside the Science of Extraordinary Athletic Performance,
outlines how the vast majority of world-class sprinters trace their ancestry to the same
region in West Africa, an area where the ACTN3 gene is far more prevalent. Certain variants of this gene help our bodies
make a special protein called alpha-actinin-3, which controls how fast muscle tensing and
flexing occurs. Where this gene is more dominant, the muscles
can operate at a higher flexing rate which generates explosive power, a crucial component
of speed. The influence of the ACTN3 gene was discovered
in 2008 when geneticists were studying elite sprinters and power athletes. 7. The malaria-protecting variant – In October
2015, British journal Nature published data from a study they had carried out where genes
identified in some African children reduce their risk of contracting severe malaria by
up to 40%, an incredible find seeing as nearly half of the world’s population is at risk
of malaria. In 2015 there were roughly 212 million malaria
cases and an estimated 429,000 malaria deaths. This genetic discovery allows scientists to
carry out risk assessments of individuals and the wider population. Though blood disorders are not necessarily
considered in the super zone, the information that the medical community can learn from
these protected people can help to influence more innovative malaria treatments down the
road, and save thousands of people. 6. The painless family – No one likes to feel
pain, but it serves an important function by telling us that something is wrong. Yet there’s a strange case of an Italian
family that feels almost no pain at all due to a genetic mutation. The Marsili family is afflicted with a type
of rare condition known as congenital analgesia or congenital insensitivity to pain. This means they don’t feel things the same
way normal people do. Sounds great, right? Well actually it can be a huge problem. You need to feel pain when you’re growing
up so you learn not to touch that hot stove, or to recognize when you have an illness such
as appendicitis which is recognized through severe abdominal pain. A research team lead by scientists at University
College London (UCL) have conducted a genetic study into the Marsili family to determine
the genetic root of the condition, with the hope that their findings can be used to develop
a new treatment for chronic pain. 5. Low-cholesterol mutation – This is the one
that everybody wants! A genetic mutation that lowers cholesterol
levels regardless of the number of greasy chips you consume. Mutations in a gene responsible for producing
a protein called cholesteryl ester transfer protein or CETP, result in a deficiency of
that protein. A person who has CETP deficiency often has
higher levels of good cholesterol, which helps carry cholesterol to the liver so it can be
removed from the body, resulting in lower cholesterol levels…which means? Yep, you guessed it…more fatty foods and
less chance of heart disease. But wait a minute; maybe it’s not so simple. We found that a genetic study of 150,000 Chinese
adults published in the journal JAMA Cardiology concluded that raising so-called good cholesterol
by blocking a key protein does not protect against heart disease or stroke. So even if you are a super cholesterol burner,
you still need to keep an eye on your diet. 4. Super coffee consumer – There are at least
six genes associated with how your body processes caffeine so not everyone gets the same buzz
from their morning cup. Researchers from the Harvard School of Public
Health and Brigham Women’s Hospital conducted analysis of more than 120,000 coffee drinkers. They found that genetic variants that applied
to caffeine metabolism impact how caffeine triggers the body’s sense of reward. “Our findings may allow us to identify subgroups
of people most likely to benefit from increasing or decreasing coffee consumption for optimal
health,” commented Marilyn Cornelis, a nutrition research associate at Harvard University. This may explain why some people are able
to fall asleep at night after a daytime coffee while others have to cut out the habit altogether
to get a good night’s sleep. 3. Tetrachromacy – That’s quite a mouthful! And this rare condition certainly sounds like
the trait of a superhero. Most of us have three types of cone cells
in our eye with which to view the colors of the world. But researchers suspect that some people see
even more as they have a fourth type. A person with four types of cones might experience
a range of colors invisible to the rest of us. It’s possible these so-called tetrachromats
see a hundred million colors, with hundreds of subtle shades that we do not even have
names for. And because perceiving color is a personal
experience, they would have no way of knowing they see far beyond what we consider the limits
of human vision. Tetrachromacy certainly sounds like a proper
super mutation. 2. Super lungs – Thousands of Tibetans live
at altitudes of over 11,000 ft (3500 meters), and some in the Chantong-Qingnan area even
as high as 15,000 ft (4500 meters). At this height, there’s 40% less oxygen
which can be fatal for most people, but the locals here go about their day as if they
are living at sea level. This is due to genetic evolution that has
come about over generations. An international team of researchers compared
the DNA of 50 Tibetans with that of 40 Han Chinese and found 34 mutations that have become
more common in Tibetans in the 2,750 years since the populations split. A gene that controls red blood cell production
enables these Tibetans to tolerate high altitudes, providing them with their super lung capacity. 1. Unbreakable mutation – Imagine being able
to fall from a bike or off a ladder, get up, brush the dust off, and carry on your way. It sounds like the lifestyle of Schwarzenegger’s
Terminator character. But believe it or not, there are some people
born with a rare genetic mutation which makes their bones several times denser than the
average human. In theory, people with the unbreakable bone
mutation could walk away from car accidents unscathed. It sounds like a blessing, eh? Well maybe not, as this condition, known as
sclerosteosis, results in excessive bone growth, and can cause pressure on cranial nerves,
sometimes even leading to hearing loss. The good news is that doctors are trying to
use this mutation to find a cure for osteoporosis and other diseases that cause brittle bones. So, that’s our list of 10 super mutations. Do you know of any other mutations that make
everyday people superhuman? Let us know in the comments! Also be sure to check out our other video
about real superheroes, called Batman vs. Superman – Who Would Win? Thanks for watching, and, as always, don’t
forget to like, share, and subscribe. See you next time!


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