Friday, November 05, 2010

There is no free lunch in genetics, either

Martin Pollak, our chief of nephrology, sends along a link to a recent podcast in which he is interviewed. He summarizes:

Basically, we have sorted out why African Americans get so much more kidney disease than other groups. It is related to the development of genetic resistance to sleeping sickness in Africans about 5000 years ago. Specific genetic differences that protect against sleeping sickness increase the risk of kidney disease.

Check Science Magazine Vol 329, 13 August 2010, at page 841 for the full printed version, and for a commentary article, in Vol 329, 16 July 2010, at page 263.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Interesting! It has also been shown that the presence of sickle cell trait and the absence of the Duffy blood group antigen, both common in those of African descent, are associated with increased resistance to malaria. (For interest, the Duffy antigen provides an entry site for the malaria parasite to infect the cell, so its absence is genetically advantageous).
Clearly some of these genetic variations are tradeoffs.

nonlocal

Paul Levy said...

I also remember hearing something about how genetic predisposition to Tay-Sachs might be associated with less likelihood of getting tuberculolis, but I don't know if that has been proven.