21. Malaria Resistance gene
Malaria is responsible for thousands of deaths in Africa annually. It’s one of mankind’s oldest diseases and one we simply cannot seem to eradicate, as hard as we try. Yet it does seem like we may one day be capable of doing this. During the 1940s and 50s, scientists J.B.S. Haldane & A.C. Allison were able to find that the sickle-cell mutation known as Glu6Val in the beta hemoglobin gene, HBB, proved to be resistant to malaria.
More mutations in the HBB have come along showing resistance to malaria too. Populations play a part in this and show one of the ways evolution is proven in humans today. Some have a mutated Duffy antigen gene (FY). The FY is a membrane protein used by the Plasmodium Vivax malaria parasite to access the red blood cells. The FY mutation stops things at the access point, preventing malaria from starting up. This trait is seen in 100% of cases for people in Sub-Saharan Africa, but nowhere else.