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Scientists discover secret Kenyan gene that blocks malaria

A new scientific study has shown that some children in Kenya have a particular gene that could block malaria.

The study has been published in the medical journal Nature and says the protective gene was found most commonly among children in Kenya, where it reduced the risk of severe malaria by about 40 per cent, with a slightly smaller effect across the other African populations studied.

The study involved around 25,000 children from eight African countries — Malawi, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya, Mali, the Gambia and Tanzania.

It examined common genetic variants in individuals.

The study compared the DNA of 5,633 children who had severe malaria with the DNA of 5,919 who did not. The researchers then replicated their key findings in a further 14,000 children.

Prof Kevin Marsh, a co-author from the Kemri-Wellcome research programme in Kilifi, Kenya, said the study “strengthens the argument for focusing on the malaria side of the parasite-human interaction in our search for a new vaccine”.

SOURCE: Daily Nation