A team of scientists from CSIR-CCMB (Council of Scientific and Industrial Research – Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology) have revealed that several attacks of severe malaria are related to a specific gene variation in an individual.
According to sources, a team of scientist from CSIR-CCMB and the Institute of Tropical Medicine (ITM) Germany carried out a research study and found that the variations in a gene called MBL2 of an individual are responsible for causing severe malarial disease.
The scientists carried out the research based on the fact that a majority of Indians are susceptible to malaria while certain tribal groups in the country have resistance to the disease. Now with this finding, one can easily know whether if an individual’s body is susceptible to malaria or not based on the mutations in the gene.
According to the findings of the scientists the gene MBL2 encodes a particular protein called Mannose binding Lectin, which forms the basis of immunity. It is the first to identify a disease causing pathogen when it attacks the human system. “MBL2 is a pathogen recognizing molecule and usually binds to the surface of glycoconjugate, one of the proteins on the surface of pathogens. In the case of malaria, it adheres to the malaria parasite and activates the body’s defence mechanism. This gene is a pathogen receptor molecule and has a lot of functions in immunity. For the first time, we have looked at its role in malaria in Indian population,” says Dr Thangaraj, senior scientist at CCMB.
Scientist, Aditya Nath Jha carried out the study and conducted a DNA analysis of the entire MBL2 gene in 434 malaria patients from regions that were endemic to the disease. Additionally, 830 individuals from 32 socially, linguistically and geographically diverse endogamous Indian populations were investigated for distribution of MBL2 variations. The study found that around 20 per cent of severe malaria patients carried structural variants of the gene. The frequency of variations was three times more when compared to the control subjects.
Interestingly, the scientists found a combination of variants that give protection against malaria in some tribal groups such as Gonds and Subba. Both the groups had high level of MBL2 and also the structural variants that offer protection. Other groups such as Lambadis, Rajgonds, Puma and Sherpas had higher frequency of MBL2*Y mutation which made them susceptible to the disease.
With these new findings scientists are of the view that by determining the genetic variations it would definitely pave way for discovering new drugs based on specific needs of the people based on which diseases can be treated effectively.