Sickle-cell may blunt, not stop, malaria

Trait appears to diminish infection severity

4:00pm, May 2, 2011

Sickle-cell hemoglobin may gas malaria into submission, a new study proposes.

People who carry a mutation that deforms the oxygen-carrying protein in red blood cells are well-known to be protected against malaria. Scientists used to think the mutation prevented the malaria parasite from getting into blood cells. But researchers led by Miguel Soares at the Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência in Oeiras, Portugal, now suggest another mechanism.

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