May 20, 2011
Genetics Show Reduced Risk of Malaria
Ivanhoe Newswire) -- A human genetic variant associated with an almost 30 percent reduced risk of developing severe malaria has been identified.
Scientists from the Bernhard Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine (BNITM), Hamburg, and Kumasi University, Ghana, reveal that a variant at the FAS locus can prevent an excessive and potentially hazardous immune response in infected children.
FAS encodes for CD95, a molecule critically involved in the programmed death of some white blood cells. This candidate gene study, including more than 6,000 child subjects, details how a single nucleotide variant of FAS predisposes its carriers to a higher number of immune cells prone to suicide. These findings indicate that a genetic predisposition to an increased expression of CD95 may help to protect from severe malaria, possibly by rendering a type of white blood cell more susceptible to programmed cell death.
"We believe that our study will help to unravel the mechanisms causing the fatal forms of malaria," Kathrin Schuldt, co-author, was quoted as saying.
SOURCE: PLoS, published online May 19, 2011