http://www.myspace.com/acorvettes A gene known as HbS was the center of a medical and evolutionary detective story that began in the middle 1940s in Africa. Doctors noticed that patients who had sickle cell anemia, a serious hereditary blood disease, were more likely to survive malaria, a disease which kills some 1.2 million people every year. What was puzzling was why sickle cell anemia was so prevalent in some African populations.
How could a "bad" gene -- the mutation that causes the sometimes lethal sickle cell disease -- also be beneficial? On the other hand, if it didn't provide some survival advantage, why had the sickle gene persisted in such a high frequency in the populations that had it?
Appears on these pages
Balanced Polymorphism: two or more alleles within a population that are maintained at almost a...