ABOUT MALARIA: Malaria is a potentially fatal disease caused by a parasite that is primarily found in human hosts and other vertebrates. A secondary host is the female mosquito of a particular genus. Once the mosquito ingests the parasite from an infected human, the parasite fuses to the insectýs gut, forming a type of cyst that will eventually rupture and release infected material throughout the body to the salivary glands. Upon biting other humans, the mosquito transfers the parasite via its saliva. Because only females feed on blood, males do not carry or transmit the parasite. Typical symptoms of malaria include fever, joint aches, chills and other flu-like symptoms. While approximately 1,500 cases of malaria are diagnosed in the US each year, it is most wide-spread in tropical or sub-tropical regions.
HOW GENES WORK: Everyone has a set of chromosomes, each containing two halves, one from each parent, and each containing a complete set of gene, so that each chromosome has two copies of every gene. The "dominant" gene is the one that is expressed, such as for brown eyes. A "recessive" gene produces a particular trait -- for instance, for blue eyes -- only if its effects are not over-ridden by those of a dominant gene. Genes are normally transmitted unchanged from one generation to the next, but sometimes a mutation occurs: the structure of the gene is changed. Genetic engineers study these mutations in hopes that it may one day be possible to correct errors in genetic coding that are responsible for specific diseases or disorders.
The Biophysical Society contributed to the information contained in the TV portion of this report.