(CNN)In 2006, US scientists published a landmark study that linked lower levels of a gene known as PCSK9 to lower rates of heart disease.
Researchers then sought to test the thesis by identifying subjects with a rare mutation that resulted in even lower levels of PSCK9. Just two were discovered, including a young woman living in South Africa.
The discovery allowed drug manufacturers to produce what became Praluent, the first FDA-approved cholesterol-lowering drug of the 21st Century, which would be prescribed to guard against strokes, heart attacks and other deadly conditions.
The location of the South African subject was not by chance.
There is greater genetic diversity in Africa than in any other continent, studies have consistently shown.