Science turns lens on Kodinhi twins mystery

Village with highest number of twins in Kerala attracts international research team.

Updated - December 02, 2016 11:51 am IST

Published - October 27, 2016 03:09 am IST - MALAPPURAM:

Researchers collecting saliva sample from a twin child at Kodinhi.

Researchers collecting saliva sample from a twin child at Kodinhi.

Kodinhi, a tiny village in Malappuram known for its bizarrely high concentration of twin siblings, has now come under the lens of an international team of genetic researchers.

A joint team comprising researchers from various institutions in India, Germany, and the U.K. has started collecting saliva samples from the twins of Kodinhi village, near Tirurangadi, to isolate their DNA, in a bid to find out why so many twins are born here.

They said they were trying to screen the specific gene responsible for the country’s highest twinning population. Kodinhi, consisting of eight wards in Nannambra grama panchayat with a near 20,000 population, logs the highest rate of twins in the country.

The presence of more than 500 twin siblings of different ages in the village still remains a riddle for the scientific world.

The 12-member team from the CSIR’s Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, Hyderabad; Kerala University of Fisheries and Oceanic Studies (KUFOS), Kochi; Institute of Tropical Medicine at the University of Tubingen, Germany; and the University College, London; is now camping at Kodinhi and studying the physiology and behaviour of the twins.

The twins phenomenon has been showing no let-up. “Among the twins we are studying are a three-week-old pair,” P. Preetham Elumalai, assistant professor of biochemistry from KUFOS told The Hindu .

Thirumalaisamy P. Velavan from Tubingen University is leading the research team.

The researchers will pool in the data collected from the four twin communities and subject them to a deeper analyses. The results are likely to throw interesting light on a riddle that the world has been watching with much curiosity until now.

Although local people tend to ascribe many reasons for high twinning in the four global communities, none of them had any scientific backing. “Until today, no studies have provided scientific rationale for twinning in specific populations,” said Prof. Preetham.

Kaustubh Adhikari from University College London, who got global attention by screening grey hair gene, and his colleague Macarena Fuentes Guajardo say they are excited about the Kodinhi twinning phenomenon.

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