Gene wards off malaria without side effects
Italian researchers report in the 15 November issue of Nature that school children from Burkino Faso carrying the haemoglobin C gene are much less likely to develop malaria than those with the typical version of haemoglobin.
Another version of haemoglobin, haemoglobin S, also protects against malaria, but it has a steep cost: People carrying two copies of the haemoglobin S gene develop severe sickle cell anaemia.
Understanding how haemoglobin C works could help guide the development of vaccines and drugs for malaria, which kills 3,000 children a day in Africa.
References: Nature 414, 305 (2001)
Science 294, 1439 (2001)
Link to paper in Nature