Individuals of Mexican descent have varying health factors, therapeutic responses to medications as well as illness susceptibility rates particularly in terms of lung diseases. Today, researchers appeared to have found a possible explanation to this by decoding the genes of modern Mexicans.

A new study, which was published in the journal Science on June 13, researchers from Stanford University, University of California San Francisco and Mexico's National Institute of Genomic Medicine (INMEGEN) examined the genetic makeup of over 1,000 individuals with Mexican descent and found genetic variations so diverse the researchers said the differences were comparable to those between Asians and Europeans.

The genetic diversity also appears to have something to do with the geography of Mexico as ethnic groups that live farthest from each other tend to have genomes that are far too different from each other.

"We found striking genetic stratification among indigenous populations within Mexico at varying degrees of geographic isolation," the researchers wrote. "Some groups were as differentiated as Europeans are from East Asians."

The findings of the study is seen to be helpful in shedding light on the different health and medical instances of Latinos of Mexican descent but what can be considered as the most important implications of the study is in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases. The result of the study could be crucial for the diagnosis and care of anyone with a hint of ancient Mexican heritage.

Study researcher Esteban González Burchard, from the UCSF schools of Pharmacy and Medicine said that a person's ancestry matters when being diagnosed for lung diseases such as asthma or emphysema and since doctors diagnose and treat patients based partly on their ethnic heritage, the varying genetic makeup of Mexicans may result in misdiagnoses and wrong treatment if doctors treat them all the same.

"In this study, we realized that for disease classification it also matters what type of Native American ancestry you have," Burchard said. "In terms of genetics, it's the difference between a neighborhood and a precise street address."

Findings of the study reveal that some Mexicans are more vulnerable to lung diseases than others and those who live in specific regions of the country have genes that are more susceptible to lung function diseases. The genetic differences also affect risks for other diseases such as breast cancer and how the body responds to certain medications.

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