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Research - Clues to Cholera Resistance - Evidence that Genetic Changes May Offer Protection

CLICK HERE - RESEARCH - Natural Selection in a Bangladeshi Population from the Cholera-Endemic Ganges River Delta

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news.harvard.edu - by Peter Reuell - July 22, 2013

Researchers have long understood that genetics can play a role in susceptibility to cholera, but a team of Harvard scientists is now uncovering evidence of genetic changes that might also help protect some people from contracting the deadly disease.

Based on genetic data gathered from hundreds of people in Bangladesh, a research team made up of Harvard faculty and scientists from the Broad Institute and the Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) was able to identify a number of areas in the genome — some are responsible for certain immune system functions, others are connected to fluid loss — that appear to be related to cholera resistance. Later tests showed genetic differences between people who had contracted the disease and those who had been exposed, but never became ill. The results are described in a paper published this month in Science Translational Medicine.

. . . The hope, Sabeti added, is that improved understanding of why some people appear to be immune will help efforts to develop vaccines and therapies, so that outbreaks like those of recent years in Haiti and Africa might someday be avoided.

. . . “We also haven’t been able to develop a particularly effective vaccine,” added Elinor Karlsson, a post-doctoral fellow in organismic and evolutionary biology and the first author of the paper. “The vaccine that’s available wears off after a few years, whereas people who are exposed to the disease develop a long-lasting immunity… and nobody is quite sure why that is. This research is another way of tackling that problem, and it’s a way no one has come at it before.”

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Broad Institute - Natural selection in the time of cholera

Massachusetts General Hospital - Genetic signals reflect the evolutionary impact of cholera
Study identifies regions of genome associated with cholera susceptibility in Bangladesh

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