Disease resistance may be genetic

Aug 30, 2007

According to a study in Evolution, resistance to certain infectious diseases may be passed genetically from parent to child. The genetic resistance may be beneficial to families as those with the gene are both unlikely to suffer from disease and unlikely to carry the disease home. Paul Schliekelman, author of the study, says the research was inspired by personal experience after catching stomach flus from his daughter three times over a six-month period.

Schliekelman used mathematical models to calculate the possible effect of “kin selection” on natural evolution. “Natural selection is typically seen as ‘survival of the fittest’, but in this case it might be more accurate to say ‘survival of the fittest families,’” says Schliekelman.

His research led to the following conclusions:

-There exists a strong tendency to catch infectious diseases from family members.

-If a relative has a gene that gives resistance to a disease, it would benefit other relatives because they would be less likely to catch the disease.

-Genes that offer resistance to infectious diseases will tend to cluster in families.

-Therefore, the resistance genes in a family help each other out and natural selection in their favor can be dramatically increased.

This model may prove useful in understanding the spread of deadly diseases and may alter the long-term natural selection of certain genes in a population. Studying the genetic behavior of these diseases could be an important step towards understanding the evolutionary history of infectious disease resistance.

Source: Blackwell Publishing

Explore further: Innovative 'genotype first' approach uncovers protective factor for heart disease

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Breakthrough in coccidiosis research

Jul 28, 2014

Biological researchers at the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) are a step closer to finding a new cost-effective vaccine for the intestinal disease, coccidiosis, which can have devastating effects on poultry ...

Recommended for you

Study clarifies parents as source of new disease mutations

Jul 31, 2014

Scientists have long speculated that mosaicism – a biological phenomenon, in which cells within the same person have a different genetic makeup – plays a bigger role in the transmission of rare disease mutations than ...

How black truffles deal with the jumpers in their genome

Jul 31, 2014

The black truffle uses reversible epigenetic processes to regulate its genes, and adapt to changes in its surroundings. The 'methylome' - a picture of the genome regulation taking place in the truffle, is published in the ...

Gene research targets scarring process

Jul 28, 2014

Scientists have identified three genes that may be the key to preventing scar formation after burn injury, and even healing existing scars.

User comments : 0