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Picture: Victoria Pickering

“Swedes we are not / no-longer, Russians we do not want to become, let us therefore be Finns.”

The famous quote by Adolf Ivar Arwidsson (1791-1858), the writer, considered a mastermind of an independent Finland, sounds pretty accurate today after a new study published in the prestigious scientific journal, Nature, reveals that the genetics of the Finnish population differ from the European genetics significantly.

According to the study, Finns have to be considered its own independent population.

The outcome of the research is a result of studying 60,000 people from different nationalities. It includes population samples from Europe, Africa, South and East Asia and from the American continent.

The results of the research are important because Finns’ different gene background offers unique opportunities to study the function of genes. For example, according to Professor Markku Laakso from the University of Eastern Finland, the folks of eastern Finland are assumed to descend from only 1,500 families.

On the other hand, researching population genetics is important for understanding the genetic history and biology of different cultures. In addition, gene information of different populations is significant for diagnosing different illnesses.

As an example, alterations in the AKT2 gene is a central factor in causing insulin sensitivity, which occurs in about one percent of Finns but doesn’t occur anywhere else in the world. Early studies show that the carriers of the gene have insulin resistance (cells fail to respond to the normal actions of the hormone insulin) especially in the muscles and liver but not, for example, in fat tissues.