Malaria a growing threat
allele. Genes can exist in more than one form. Each different form of the same gene is called an allele. For example, in the case of seed shape, there is one allele that determines wrinkled seeds and another allele that determines round seeds.
antibody. A protein produced by the body's immune system in response to a foreign substance (antigen). An antibody reacts specifically with the antigen that induced its formation and inactivates the antigen. Our bodies fight off an infection by producing antibodies.
antigen. Any foreign substance, usually a protein, that stimulates the body's immune system to produce antibodies. (The name antigen reflects its role in stimulating an immune response antibody generating.)
cerebral malaria. A type of malaria in which the red blood cells obstruct the blood vessels in the brain. Other vital organs can also be damaged. Cerebral malaria often leads to the death of the patient.
meiosis. A division of the nucleus that involves the separation of pairs of chromosomes into different cells. Meiosis takes place in the reproductive organs of sexually reproducing organisms. Meiosis involves two nuclear divisions, both of which may take place before division of the cell itself is complete. The eventual result is four cells, each with half the number of chromosomes present in the original cell. Crossing over of chromosomes during meiosis creates new combinations of genes in the progeny that were not present in either adult. For more information see How cells divide: Mitosis versus meiosis (Public Broadcasting Service, USA).
vaccine. A preparation consisting of antigens of a disease-causing organism which, when introduced into the body, stimulates the production of specific antibodies or altered cells. This produces an immunity to the disease-causing organism. The antigen in the preparation can be whole disease-causing organisms (killed or weakened) or parts of these organisms.
Posted June 1997.