Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Malaria risk – it’s not all in the genes

08.11.2005


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:
http://www.plos.org
http://www.plosmedicine.org

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht How brains surrender to sleep
23.06.2017 | IMP - Forschungsinstitut für Molekulare Pathologie GmbH

nachricht A new technique isolates neuronal activity during memory consolidation
22.06.2017 | Spanish National Research Council (CSIC)

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Quantum thermometer or optical refrigerator?

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

A 100-year-old physics problem has been solved at EPFL

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Equipping form with function

23.06.2017 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>