Friday, July 25, 2008

Basque DNA Research in Boise

This not comes to us via Idaho News Now:

Researchers gather DNA from Idaho Basques

by Ysabel Bilbao

BOISE -- Idaho’s largest ethnic group will be celebrating this weekend on Boise’s Basque block.

While a festival for some, it will be an experiment for others.

This block will fill with people for the annual San Inazio Basque Festival.

While Basques enjoy the celebration, two research students from the University of the Basque Country will be gathering DNA for medical research.

For many the Basque Center is a place to have a drink with friends, but this week it’s turned into part bar and part research lab.

Ph.D. students from the University of the Basque Country, Adrian Odriozola and Eneko Sanz, are taking DNA samples from local Basques as part of a worldwide research project.

The two have gathered samples from hundreds of Basques living in Idaho, Nevada, and California.

Each person gargles a liquid, which collects cells from the sides of people’s cheeks.

From the back of the bar their work is then transferred to a lab at Boise State University.

It's here under the guidance of Dr. Greg Hampikian, that Odriozola and his American counterpart Michael Davis extract DNA samples.

"We are trying to establish a collection of Basque Community DNA around the world. And in Boise there are a lot of Basque in Idaho, it's a strong DNA, Basque community," said Odriozola.

It's that strong community and strong genetic link to the old country that has drawn the researchers abroad. Dr. Hampikian says the best form of genetic research comes from twins separated at birth. Studying their DNA helps researchers know if disease or illness comes from nature or nurture.

Studying the Basque here and in their homeland provides that on a much larger scale.

"Finding two populations that have the same genetics that are located in different places is a huge benefit to all of humanity," said Hampikian.

The research students are focusing their studies on Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, but their research will include a variety of illnesses, including heart disease, cancer and diabetes.

"We want to establish a strong collection about the Basque community, not only for use in DNA Bank, we want to offer this to the scientific community," said Odriozola.

"These types of studies are ongoing, not just with Europeans or the Basques, but really a worldwide phenomena," said Michael Davis, BSU graduate student.

The Basque researchers will leave Boise next week and head back to the Basque country to input data.

Afterward, they will continue traveling to Central and South America to collect DNA samples from Basques living there.

My only question is, are you to do this before or after your first kalimotxo?

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