Sickle cell gene’s global map supports ‘malaria hypothesis’November 3rd, 2010 - 4:02 pm ICT by ANI
London, Nov 03 (ANI): University of Oxford scientists have produced the first detailed global map showing the distribution of the sickle cell gene, supporting the ‘malaria hypothesis’.
Haemoglobin S (HbS) is known to cause sickle cell disease, which is usually fatal if untreated. Natural selection suggests that such a disadvantageous gene should not survive, yet it is common in people of African, Mediterranean and Indian origin.
More than sixty years ago, researchers observed that the sickle cell gene tended to be more common in populations living in, or originating from, areas of high malaria prevalence.
This led to the ‘malaria hypothesis’, which suggested that, although deadly when inherited from both parents, the gene provided a degree of protection from malaria in children inheriting it from just one parent. This protective advantage was strong enough in areas of intense malaria transmission for the gene to survive.
The malaria hypothesis has since been supported by both population and laboratory studies, but the original observations of a geographical overlap between frequency of the gene and malaria prevalence have never been tested beyond simple visual comparisons at the global scale.
To address this, Dr Fred Piel and colleagues collated all the information currently accessible on the occurrence of the sickle cell gene in native populations worldwide and, using modern mapping techniques, created a map of the global frequency of this gene. The map was then compared with the distribution and intensity of malaria before widespread malaria control.
The study showed that the sickle cell gene is most common in sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East and India, and that the areas of high frequency of this gene are coincident with historically high levels of malaria, thus confirming that the malaria hypothesis is correct at the global scale.
“This study highlights the first steps in our efforts to create an open-access, online database of the frequency of various inherited blood disorders,” says lead author Dr Piel, from the University of Oxford. “Such databases will help improving estimates of their public health burden and guide where resources would be best applied.”
The results were published in the journal Nature Communications. (ANI)
- How sickle haemoglobin protects against malaria - Apr 29, 2011
- Chhattisgarh to screen students for sickle cell anaemia - Apr 06, 2011
- Chhattisgarh to host international meet on rare disease (Lead) - Nov 20, 2010
- Chhattisgarh seeks central help to battle sickle cell - Aug 31, 2010
- Chhattisgarh to step up sickle-cell patients detection drive - Nov 27, 2010
- Global meet on sickle cell disease begins in Chhattisgarh - Nov 22, 2010
- Sickle cell patients number rising globally: Experts (Lead) - Nov 22, 2010
- Chhattisgarh stares at massive health threat - sickle cell anaemia - Aug 26, 2009
- 2.85bn people lived at risk of malaria in 2009 - Aug 04, 2010
- Sickle cell anaemia grips 18 percent of Chhattisgarh's people - Sep 05, 2009
- King Tut died from sickle-cell disease, not malaria: Experts - Jun 26, 2010
- Scientists complete whole-exome sequencing of skin cancer - Apr 16, 2011
- Gene-based controls 'could stop mosquitoes spreading malaria' - Apr 21, 2011
- Researchers develop faster way to locate disease genes - Aug 18, 2009
- India-origin scientist's findings may hold key to novel malaria vaccines - Oct 22, 2010
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,