Type O Blood Protects Malaria Victims

Drugs based on finding could spark cure, save 2 million annually
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 30, 2007 8:52 PM CDT
A young boy diagnosed with Malaria awaits treatment at a clinic run by World Vision in the South Darfur refugee camp of Otash in 2007. (AP Photo/Alfred de Montesquiou)   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – Scientists may be closer to a malaria cure after learning that type O blood naturally shields victims from harsh forms of the disease. A study published today showed that African malaria victims with type O blood are two-thirds less likely to suffer fatal anemia or unrousable coma, the BBC reports. One scientist admitted that the finding surprised him.

He told the Telegraph, "I found it amazing that no one had looked in detail at the effects of blood group on life-threatening malaria in Africa, where most malaria deaths occur." The researchers found that type O blood cells won't flock to “rosettes”—parasite-encased blood cells—thereby stopping them from blocking blood vessels and oxygen. A cure could prevent up to 2 million deaths by malaria annually worldwide.