The black genie

Africans may be deprived of a lot many things, but some of them are gifted with a gene that provides protection against malaria. A survey done by an international team of researchers recently revealed that every tenth person in Burkina Faso has a gene that provides defence against malaria. The gene encodes a mutant form of haemoglobin called hbc. People with hbc get infected with malaria, but somehow the mutations stop the infection from causing severe symptoms such as anaemia and coma (www.nature.com , November 21, 2001). People with one copy of the gene have 26 per cent less chance to get sick with malaria. And for those who have two copies

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