Inherited blood disorders (IBDs) include all disorders that are passed down through families and affect the normal properties of blood in humans. Their clinical effects range from benign to lethal. We are interested in IBDs that are common enough to be of public health significance and particularly in those with a link to malaria.
Malaria parasites enter red blood cells during key stages of their life cycle so it is no surprise that changes to the structure or make-up of our red blood cells can have an impact on malaria infection. Some changes to red blood cells make us more resistant to malaria infection whereas others create the potential for a harmful reaction to certain antimalarial drugs. These factors add to the importance of understanding the public health burden of these disorders and our aim of providing information for public health workers involved in malaria control.
Note on the Duffy blood group: Changes to the Duffy antigen on the red blood cell do not cause a clinical disorder but they do have a large impact on resistance to malaria infection, which is why this blood group is part of our mapping work.