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Monday 22nd January 2018

Malaria hope from blood findings

31st October 2007

Researchers believe they could be a step closer to a cure for malaria after making a breakthrough discovery.


Scientists from Edinburgh University have found the people with blood group O are naturally protected from its most severe forms and are significantly less likely to experience the most life-threatening effects of malaria.

Working with researchers in the US, Mali and Kenya, the Edinburgh team studied African children and found that those with blood type O were two-thirds less likely to experience unrousable coma or life-threatening anaemia.

Scientists now hope that the findings, published in the journal PNAS, will help develop drugs which mimic the properties of red cells in O group blood, which prevent malaria worsening.
Malaria claims up to two million lives around the world every year.

Dr Alex Rowe, of Edinburgh University’s School of Biological Sciences, said: “This discovery explains why some people are less likely to suffer from life-threatening malaria than others, and tells us that if we can develop a drug or a vaccine to reduce mimic the effect of being blood group O, we may be able to reduce the number of children dying from severe malaria in sub-Saharan Africa.?

The research was funded by the Wellcome Trust and the National Institutes of Health.

In fatal malaria, it is often red blood cells which are infected by parasites and block blood vessels which supply oxygen to the brain. But the team’s findings suggest that this is less likely to happen with group O red blood cells.


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