Sickle cell disease and malaria

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Sickle Cell Anaemia and Malaria

sickle cell disease and malaria

Haemoglobin and Sickle Cell Anaemia


It has been a medical mystery for 67 years, ever since the British geneticist Anthony Allison established that carriers of one mutated copy of the gene that causes sickle-cell anaemia are protected from malaria 1. Since then, scientific sleuths have wondered how exactly the gene protects them. With a paper published today in Science 2 , the answer or a large part of it seems to be at hand. Sickle cells infected with Plasmodium falciparum green collapse and prevent the parasite from interfering with the cell's actin proteins, protecting the host against malaria. Both mutations lead to the substitution of a single amino acid in the hemoglobin molecule, causing the haemoglobin to aggregate abnormally inside the cell.

The latest issue of the journal Cell carries an article that is likely to help solve one of the long-standing mysteries of biomedicine. These findings, by the research team lead by Miguel P. Soares, open the way to new therapeutic interventions against malaria, a disease that continues to inflict tremendous medical, social and economic burdens to a large proportion of the human population. Sickle cell anemia is a blood disease in which red blood cells reveal an abnormal crescent or sickle shape when observed under a conventional microscope. It is an inherited disorder -- the first ever to be attributed to a specific genetic modification mutation , in by Linus Pauling two-times Nobel laureate, for Chemistry in , and Peace, in The cause of sickle cell anemia was attributed unequivocally to a single base substitution in the DNA sequence of the gene encoding the beta chain of hemoglobin, the protein that carries oxygen in red blood cells.

November 30, Sickle cell anemia causes pain, fatigue and delayed growth, all because of a lack of enough healthy red blood cells. And yet genetic mutations that cause it - recessive genes for the oxygen-carrying hemoglobin protein - have survived natural selection because they also seem to provide a natural defense against malaria. Scientists have long known this, and they have long wondered how it worked. In a paper published this month in the journal Science , researchers describe their look into how mutated hemoglobin genes defend their cells against attacks by the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum. Study lead author Marek Cyrklaff, an electron microscopist and molecular biologist at Heidelberg University in Germany, explained the results. Q: How dangerous is this malaria parasite?

Biochemical and immunological mechanisms by which sickle cell trait protects against malaria

Contact Us. Only in some individuals do malaria episodes progress to severe life-threatening disease, while in the majority the episodes are self-limiting.

Sickle-cell mystery solved

Sickle cell trait HbAS is the best-characterized genetic polymorphism known to protect against falciparum malaria. Although the protective effect of HbAS against malaria is well known, the mechanism s of protection remain unclear. A number of biochemical and immune-mediated mechanisms have been proposed, and it is likely that multiple complex mechanisms are responsible for the observed protection. Increased evidence for an immune component of protection as well as novel mechanisms, such as enhanced tolerance to disease mediated by HO-1 and reduced parasitic growth due to translocation of host micro-RNA into the parasite, have recently been described. A better understanding of relevant mechanisms will provide valuable insight into the host-parasite relationship, including the role of the host immune system in protection against malaria. Malaria, especially that caused by Plasmodium falciparum , has been a major cause of morbidity and mortality throughout human history.


3 thoughts on “Sickle cell disease and malaria

  1. Feb 8, Protective Effect of Sickle Cell Trait Against Malaria-Associated who are carriers for the sickle cell disease (with one sickle gene and one.

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