MALARIA – SCD

HbF (fetal hemoglobin) suppresses the expression of sickle cell disease. In addition, a recent literature review by the imminent Dr. David Weatherall suggests that HbF protects infants from malaria during the first year of life,until HbF levels decline to modest levels through a normal developmental transition as quoted below:

In vitro studies have shown that β-thalassaemic red cells are invaded at the same rate as normal red cells and that the rate of parasite growth is also indistinguishable from normal. However, both in human red cells and in transgenic mice carrying human γ-genes, it has been found that those which contain human fetal Hb are associated with ineffective development of P. falciparum or P. yoelli (Pasvol et al, 1977; Shear et al, 1998). As there is strong evidence that the rate of decline of fetal Hb after birth is delayed in β-thalassaemia heterozygotes (Weatherall & Clegg, 2001a), this could provide a mechanism of protection during the first year of life, but no longer; the studies of Passvol et al (1977) suggested that retardation of parasite growth required 5-7 pg/Hb F per cell. Source: Weatherall, David J. (Professor Sir). “Genetic Variation and Susceptibility to Infection: the Red Cell and Malaria” British Journal of Haematology. Vol. 141, 2008. p. 280.

Indeed! If one were to revive and sustain the body’s production of HbF — the infantile “mechanism of protection” (HbF) of which Dr. Weatherall speaks so eloquently — then one would have discovered by association not only a cure for SCD but also a novel, genetically based approach to the control and management of malaria. Such a discovery would be on a totally different order of magnitude. To wit, some 370 million new cases of malaria occur each year – over a thousand times the incidence of new SCD cases. WHO and the CDC estimate global malaria mortality to be 800,000 with 90% of the victims children below the age of 5.

In 2006 Dr. Broyles demonstrated how to activate and sustain the HbF “trigger” – a discovery which forms the operational basis for the SCCF project. SCCF is in possession of a discovery that provides a phenotypic “cure” for SCD and may also confer a resistance to malaria!