Research highlight

Malaria gene scan tackles diversity of West African populations

Nature Genetics

May 25, 2009

Genome scanning techniques that have been successful in finding genetic variants contributing to common diseases in European and Asian ancestry will have to be modified for studies in Africans because of the sheer genetic diversity of African populations, according to an international study of severe malaria published this week in Nature Genetics.

ominic Kwiatkowski and colleagues looked for genetic variants associated with malaria affecting the brain, and severe malaria anemia in thousands of children from four major ethnic groups and several other groups living in a small area of The Gambia, in Western Africa. The team found that, in order to find highly significant effects of even the sickle cell hemoglobin variant already known to protect against malaria, they had to sequence that gene in DNA of 62 individuals and then predict missing genetic variants using a computational model.

doi: 10.1038/ng.388

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