Who and why collects biological material of the Russians?
Firstly, let us the conditions of the tender.
“You know that biological material collected for the whole country. Moreover, different ethnic groups and people living in different geographical locations of the Russian Federation. Here’s a question — why do it here?” asked the President of Russia Vladimir Putin at a meeting of the Council for civil society development and human rights Monday, October 30. In a number of Russian media response to this question was found quickly: the development of biological weapons directed against the Russians.
Many immediately recalled that the command of the U.S. air force in the summer it announced a tender for the purchase of 12 RNA samples and 27 samples of synovial (joint) tissue from the Russians of Caucasian origin. To understand why Americans samples of RNA Russians, could it be related to weapons, and who and what for generally collects biological material from the representatives of certain ethnic groups, we asked Hope Markin, a senior researcher at the laboratory of genomic geography of the Institute of General genetics, Russian Academy of Sciences, editor of the website “the Gene pool.of the Russian Federation”.
Firstly, let us the conditions of the tender. First, it they are talking about a negligible quantity — statistically not significant, only about a dozen samples. It does not correspond to the allegation that the charges are taking place throughout the country and representatives of different ethnic groups. Secondly, judging by the fact that the customer has indicated the exact parameters for donor samples (age, gender, height, weight, health status), it is likely some kind of medical research.
This opinion is shared by doctor of biological Sciences Mikhail Gelfand, who gave comments to various media, including “Kommersant”, “Rain”. This is also in comments to “Kommersant” says Konstantin Severinov, Professor, SKOLKOVO Institute of science and technology, Professor, Rutgers University (USA): “Analysis described in the tender material can not give any valuable information.”
The fear of “leakage of genetic material” from Russia caused by lack of knowledge.
First, a huge amount of it already “leaked” in several waves of emigration. DNA Russian emigrants and their descendants abroad there is more than enough, so that to take nothing. Secondly, all the talk about the possible creation of biological weapons directed against a certain ethnic group, no more than a conspiratorial horror. Ethnicity — the concept is not biological but social, and it is determined primarily by the identity. And if to speak about associated with ethnic populations, they differ in the frequencies of some genetic variants, but these differences were only on the frequency level, that is statistical, not absolute.
But the damage from obstacles, which is complicated by the export abroad of the samples of the Russian biological materials quite realistic for the diagnosis of some cancer patients, bone marrow transplantation, to clinical trials of new drugs.
Genetic studies of the peoples of Russia — and, according to the last census in our country, there are nearly 200 really held our Russian scientists. This involved population genetics. In research involves many scientific organizations in the country: Institute of General genetics, Russian Academy of Sciences, Saint-Petersburg University (in the framework of the program “Russian genome”), the Institute of medical genetics, Siberian branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Ufa scientific center, and many other Russian public research institutes and universities.
For example, the staff of the laboratory of genomic of geography, Institute of General genetics RAS under the guidance of doctor of biological Sciences, Professor, RAS Oleg Balanovsky and the laboratory of human population genetics under the guidance of doctor of biological Sciences, Professor Elena Balanovsky each year go to expeditions to the most remote corners of the country.