November 5, 2010

Ozzy Osbourne’s Genome Sequenced

Researchers sequencing the genome of Ozzy Osbourne say that he is more likely to experience hallucinations on marijuana and has an increased risk of alcohol and cocaine addiction.

Scientists have unraveled the full genome sequence of the lead singer of Black Sabbath.  They found mutations related to addiction, metabolism, and Osbourne's Neanderthal ancestors.

"I've always said that at the end of the world there will be roaches, Ozzy and Keith Richards," said Sharon, Osbourne's wife, at a press conference announcing the findings. "He's going to outlive us all. That fascinated me."

Representatives for a genetics firm known as Knome asked Osbourne in 2007 if he would consider joining Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates and DNA co-discoverer James Watson as one of the few human beings to have their individual genomes sequenced.

"I was curious," he explained to the Sunday Times. "Given the swimming pools of booze I've guzzled over the years "“ not to mention all of the cocaine, morphine, sleeping pills, cough syrup, LSD, Rohypnol "¦ you name it "“ there's really no plausible medical reason why I should still be alive. Maybe my DNA could say why."

Osbourne's genes offer as many questions as they have answers right now.

"Ozzy carries several hundred thousand variants that have never been seen by scientists," Nathaniel Pearson, Knome's director of research, told Scientific American. "It's going to be a while before we get enough data as a society to understand those variants."

"Many of the variants in his genome are about how the brain processes dopamine," he continued.

The Black Sabbath frontman is 2.6 times more likely to experience hallucinations while on marijuana, has an increased risk of cocaine addiction and "an increased predisposition for alcohol dependence of something like six times higher," Pearson said.

A functioning change to the singer's TTN gene may be connected to Osbourne's hearing or to his tremors.

"Here's a guy who's rocking heavy metal for decades and he can still hear," said Lorge Conde, Knome's chief executive. "It would be interesting to know if this gene may impact that. [Or] his Parkinsonian tremor "“ it's hard to know if that is from his genes or from years of hard living."

Osbourne's analysis also found that he has a genetic sliver that once belonged to Neanderthals. 

"For a long time we thought that Neanderthals didn't have any descendants today, but it turns out that Asians and Europeans have some evidence of Neanderthal lineage "“ like a drop in the bucket," Pearson told Science American. "We found a little segment on Ozzy's chromosome 10 that very likely traces back to a Neanderthal forebear."

"We also looked at [Knome] founder George Church and he has about three times as much [Neanderthal] as Ozzy does," Pearson added. To this, Sharon Osbourne's response was swift: "I'd like to meet him."

Ozzy Osbourne will be 62-years-old next month.


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