Disease resistance may be genetic

August 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: Study reports multidrug resistant bacteria found in hospital sinks

Related Stories

Antimicrobial resistance remains high, says EU report

February 22, 2017

Bacteria found in humans, animals and food continue to show resistance to widely used antimicrobials, says the latest report on antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in bacteria by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the ...

Recommended for you

Autism risk genes linked to evolving brain

February 27, 2017

Genetic variants linked to autism spectrum disorders (ASD) may have been positively selected during human evolution because they also contribute to enhanced cognition, a new Yale study suggests.

Effects of genes often influenced by network

February 27, 2017

When many genes regulate a single trait, they commonly work together in large clusters or 'networks". Taking this into account allows better predictions of how an individual's genetic make-up affects the trait concerned. ...

World-first genetic clues point to risk of blindness

February 27, 2017

Australian scientists have discovered the first evidence of genes that cause Macular Telangiectasia type 2 (MacTel), a degenerative eye disease which leads to blindness and is currently incurable and untreatable.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.