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Member Research and Reports

Member Research and Reports

Florida International: Researcher Finds Correlation Between Blood Type and Susceptibility to Severe Malaria

Mr. Abraham Degarege Mengist, doctoral student at Florida International University Robert Stempel College of Public Health and Social Work, has published findings — in collaboration with Stempel College researchers Mr. Merhawi T. Gebrezgi, Dr. Gladys Ibanez and Dr. Purnima Madhivanan as well as Dr. Mats Wahlgren of the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden — on the effect of ABO blood group on susceptibility to severe malaria.

Published in the journal Blood Reviews, the study found that individuals with blood type A, B and AB are more susceptible to severe Plasmodium falciparum infection while blood group O has a protective effect.

“This finding makes a number of meaningful clinical and research implications useful for the control of severe malaria,” said Mr. Mengist. “Now that we are starting to understand the mechanisms how blood type can affect the progression of the disease, we are exploring various options that can one day help people in the regions where Malaria is endemic.”

As blood group A, B and AB could facilitate progression to severe malaria, transfusion of blood group O to P. falciparum infected patients seeking blood transfusion might be preferable to reduce the progression of the infection to severe malaria and, possibly, help patients avoid further complications or deaths. In addition, the study recommended production of antimalarial drugs that can disrupt rosette formation ― the binding of malaria-infected red blood cell to uninfected ones ― which is prominently seen in blood group A and B, for treating severe cases of malaria.

“By better understanding how blood groups interact with Malaria infections, we open doors for the development of treatment options and antimalarial vaccines,” said Mr. Mengist.

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