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Co-infection of Two genetic diseases makes them susceptible to malaria

Researchers have found that co-infection of two genetic diseases Thalassemia and Sickle Cell anemia make the patients susceptible to malarial parasite infection. It is known that patients with Thalassemia and Patients with Sickle Cell anemia were resistant to malaria infection. // But now researchers have found that co-infection of both the genetic diseases make them susceptible to malaria. The findings of the research were presented in the Fourth Multilateral Initiative on Malaria Pan-African Malaria Conference in Yaoundé, Cameroon.

"We've looked at these traits individually and we expected that if people had both of them, they would be really protected," said Tom Williams, a Wellcome Senior Research Fellow at the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) and the study's lead author. "But it turns out that when you start combining the two, you can lose the effect of both."

With malaria researchers eager to find and understand more about genetic traits that confer protection against malaria, the study--recently published in Nature Genetics--shows how challenging it can be to pinpoint protective genes and, moreover, predict how they might be influenced by other traits. (Thursday, 11:50 a.m., Iroko Hall, Parallel Session 23, Presentation 148)

"This is an important finding in part because a huge effort is being poured into malaria genomics and the search for genetic associations with malaria," Williams said. "Our study shows that it can be very complicated to turn up genetic associations and properly understand them. If one trait can interfere with the effects of another, you may miss an association where one truly exists. Conversely, you may find a trait that seems to provide protection but not see how other traits could alter the effect."

Nonetheless, Williams said the finding--which involved chronicling the genetic and malarial status of more than 2,000 children, most starting at birth--can help scientists learn more ab
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