GROSS

Brain-Eating Tribe Immune to Dementia

Scientists have identified a gene that makes a Papua New Guinean tribe resistant to dementia, according to findings published in Nature. The Fore tribe used to eat the brains of deceased relatives, which at one point led to a major breakout of the potentially fatal kuru prion disease in the 1950s. Those who survived, however, had a “prion resistance” gene, which may also be what protects them from some causes of dementia and Parkinson’s disease. “This is a striking example of Darwinian evolution in humans, the epidemic of prion disease selecting a single genetic change that provided complete protection against an invariably fatal dementia,” said John Collinge, one of the authors of the work.