A genetic variant associated with protection against four different infectious diseases is described in an online study in Nature Genetics. The variant, which is significantly more likely to be found in individuals who remain disease-free, is estimated to reduce the risk of disease by approximately half.
Proteins called 'toll-like receptors' (TLRs) are involved in the immune response to a variety of pathogens. Adrian Hill and colleagues reasoned that variation in a protein called Mal, which is a critical mediator of signaling by TLRs, might make certain individuals more or less susceptible to infectious disease. The authors determined the frequency of 33 single-nucleotide variants in the gene encoding Mal in more than 6,000 individuals from Gambia, Kenya, the UK and Vietnam with or without pneumococcal disease, bacteremia, malaria and tuberculosis - diseases that account for more than 5 million deaths each year in the developing world.
Adrian Hill (University of Oxford, UK)
Luke O'Neill (Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland)
Abstract available online.
(C) Nature Genetics press release.
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