Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Malaria risk – it’s not all in the genes


Humans exposed to malaria get infected and sick to varying degrees, and some of that variation is due to differences in genetic makeup between individuals. But how important are genetic factors compared with environmental ones? Margaret Mackinnon and colleagues (from the University of Cambridge) have an answer which they report in the international open-access medical journal PLoS Medicine.

Rather than focusing on specific genes, Mackinnon and colleagues were interested in the relative contributions of host genetics and other factors to the risk of malaria. To estimate the overall contribution of genetic factors to the difference in disease incidence between individuals within a population, one needs three types of data: (1) disease incidence for individuals over a certain period of time (to be able to determine an individual’s risk); (2) information on genetic relatedness of the individuals in the population; and (3) a set-up in which individuals with different levels of relatedness share the same environment and/or where related individuals live in different environments. (The third condition is essential to distinguish between genetic and environmental effects.)

The researchers studied two populations of children from a malaria-endemic area in Kenya for which they could obtain the necessary data. In one case, they determined incidence of mild clinical malaria in 640 children over a period of 5 years. For the second part, they monitored severe malaria that led to hospitalization and non-malaria hospitalizations in 2,900 children, also over a five-year period.

They found that host genetic factors accounted for about one quarter to one third of the total variation in susceptibility in the populations to malaria, and that household-related factors (i.e. environmental factors) contributed to a similar level. Overall, children living in the 10% of households with the highest malaria incidence had about twice as many infections per year than those living in the 10% of households with the lowest incidence.

While Mackinnon and colleagues do not question the long-term benefits of understanding the genetic factors, they conclude that "identifying and tackling the household effects must be the more efficient route to reducing the burden of disease in malaria-endemic areas". Factors such as suitable conditions for mosquitoes to breed and survive as well as human behaviour are likely to play major roles.

"We need to determine what makes the difference between low-risk and high-risk households", Mackinnon says, "but whatever it is, it seems likely to be an easy target using tools such as education and the low-cost, low-tech devices that we already have to hand such as bednets, residual indoor spraying [with insecticide], and cleaning up back yards for mosquito breeding sites."

Paul Ocampo | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht When fat cells change their colour
28.10.2016 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau

nachricht Aquaculture: Clear Water Thanks to Cork
28.10.2016 | Technologie Lizenz-Büro (TLB) der Baden-Württembergischen Hochschulen GmbH

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Novel light sources made of 2D materials

Physicists from the University of Würzburg have designed a light source that emits photon pairs. Two-photon sources are particularly well suited for tap-proof data encryption. The experiment's key ingredients: a semiconductor crystal and some sticky tape.

So-called monolayers are at the heart of the research activities. These "super materials" (as the prestigious science magazine "Nature" puts it) have been...

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Prototype device for measuring graphene-based electromagnetic radiation created

28.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Gamma ray camera offers new view on ultra-high energy electrons in plasma

28.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

When fat cells change their colour

28.10.2016 | Life Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>