'Viking genetics' study to probe link between Hebrides and disease

Up to 2,000 people have been asked to participate in the major genetics study by the University of Edinburgh.

‘Viking genetics’ study to investigate link between Hebridean descendants and disease iStock

The grandchildren of Herbridean natives are being asked to participate in a major new study exploring “Viking genetics”.

Those with at least two grandparents from either the Inner or Outer sections of the archipelago are being sought for an investigation into the cause of diseases including cancer and heart disease – with hopes it could uncover new treatments for the general population.

Experts from the University of Edinburgh previously found the genetic makeup of people from the islands is different from the rest of Scotland.

Professor Jim Wilson, lead researcher and chair of human genetics at the university, said: “Expanding the Viking Genes study will allow us to explore the unique genetic heritage of the Inner and Outer Hebrides.

“We will explore how the distinct gene pools influence the risk of disease today and investigate the Norse, Scottish and Irish components of ancestry in the different Hebridean isles.”

Participants will be asked to complete an online questionnaire about their health and lifestyle and to return a saliva sample by post, which researchers will use for genetic analysis.

Volunteers who live in the UK can choose to receive specific genetic information from their saliva sample.

It is hoped the genetic markers, provided in collaboration with the NHS, could help prevent future disease.

The university is aiming to locate around 2,000 Hebridean descendants to participate in the study, including those living in other parts of the world.

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