October 22, 2012
In this study, we will evaluate the role of malaria in a patient with sickle cell anemia and how it is a protection. Sickle cell is a hereditary disease where by parents that possesses the trait passes it on to their offspring through genes. Sickle cell anemia is mostly common in Africa particularly in children under the age of five. Although sickle cell can be beneficial in some ways but it can also be dangerous. We shall elaborate more in this study how a sickle cell patient can be immune to severe malaria.
Sickle cell anemia and malaria in Nigeria
Populations all over the world mostly Africans- suffer from the disease sickle cell anemia. Anemia is said to be a situation whereby the concentration of hemoglobin is low in the red blood cell of an individual. It is also said to be the most common blood disease. While some people are born with normal traits or alleles, others are born with the sickle cell trait or sicklemia which is when an individual has an abnormal allele in the hemoglobin beta gene. Sickle cell disease is a severe condition in which the body is producing abnormal hemoglobin in the red blood cells. Sickle cell disease is a disease that is inherited from one’s parents; the two parents involved must possess the trait to pass it on to their offspring. Individuals who are born with normal genes inherit two copies of the protein (beta) gene, and they are said to have the AA genotype, while those who have sickle cell traits have the AS genotype. The S in the sickle cell genotype comes from both parents, which makes the red blood cells of individuals with sickle cell disease turn into a curved shape known as sickled shape. In Nigeria, when two parents have the AS genotype, they tend to have a child with the sickle cell disease and may have one with one recessive allele. The article “Sickle Cell Anemia” explains that there are seven different polypeptide chains of protein that combine to form the hemoglobin in human as they develop and an alteration in these proteins would result in a problem (Parmar, 2009). They go on to explain that when the lone pair in the beta gene is altered, the thymine and adenine protein causes a change in the sixth amino acid from glutamic acid to valine, which is the reason for the altered structure (2009). Diop and colleagues argue that “sickle cell trait is the heterozygous state of this hemoglobinopathy and is classically asymptomatic” (2010). However, they go on to say that SCD is mostly seen in Africa, and in a population of 300,000 newborns every year, most children from birth to the age of 5 years old die from this disease. Olaniyi et al. (2009) argues that about 2% of Nigerian babies are born with sickle cell anemia, and that it is associated with falciparum malaria. If a person has the sickle cell trait, the person is partially immune to severe malaria. In this study, we will evaluate the role of malaria in a patient with sickle cell anemia and how it is a protection.
Sickle cell patients and the connection with malaria
Because individuals with sickle cell have an abnormal gene, one might think that they will be more susceptible to diseases, but it is not true in this case. In the article “Sickle Cell Protection from Malaria,” an argument was made that malaria can be eradicated by coexistence of sickle cell trait (2011). Researcher state that the immune components in which patients with sickle cell carry is the reason why they are protected against malaria. According to the website “Malaria and the Red Cell,” people with sickle cell disease are more likely to survive in the malaria environment (2002). They go on to state that “Rather, people (and particularly children) infected with P. falciparum are more likely to survive the acute illness if they have sickle cell trait (2002). Other researchers argued that sickle cell trait is a protection against severe malaria...