Hereditary disorders are passed down from generation to generation. Sometimes, only one parent passes down the defective gene, which creates carriers of a genetic disease. Some carriers of certain genetic disorders have been proven to be more resistant to certain viral or infectious diseases. Genetic disorders can be very harmful. Similarly, infection by certain pathogens will sometimes grant the sufferer resistance to other illnesses down the road. The following diseases have been proven to promote some degree of resistance against other illnesses. It may sound very weird and unrealistic but there are many diseases that help prevent other diseases. Here are the 7 diseases that help prevent other diseases.
Cystic Fibrosis and Tuberculosis
According to New Scientist, cystic fibrosis does protect against cholera, but cholera doesn’t kill enough people to justify the prevalence of the cystic fibrosis gene. Between 1600 and 1900, about 20% of deaths in Europe were caused by tuberculosis, and that would explain why carriers of the cystic fibrosis gene are so prominent because carriers live to maturity to pass on their genes. Those who have two genes for cystic fibrosis die before being able to pass on their Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) and the same goes for many people who contracted tuberculosis.
However, those who only have one gene for cystic fibrosis have shown some resistance to tuberculosis, hence the gene still being prevalent among Europeans and those of European descent. The cystic fibrosis gene would have died out, but it has lasted for thousands of years, so there must be some usefulness to it. That usefulness is said to be resistance to tuberculosis.
Cowpox and Smallpox
Cowpox, a viral skin infection, is basically mild smallpox. Although cowpox isn’t necessarily pleasant to contract, the human body will stop the progression of the infection after a certain period of time, so the infection itself is not lethal. Cowpox can prevent smallpox because they are both essentially the same infection.
By being introduced to the cowpox infection, the immune system is able to develop immunity to it. When a more deadly version of that infection is introduced, it is easier for the immune system to prevent severe effects. Famously, Edward Jenner utilized cowpox to create the smallpox vaccine in the late 1700s.
Phenylketonuria and Mycotic Abortions
According to an online study, “Physicians observed that women who were PKU [phenylketonuria] carriers had a much lower than average incidence of miscarriages.” PKU is a genetic disease in which phenylalanine builds up in the body, which causes issues when the patient consumes a large amount of protein. The body disables the production of an enzyme that breaks down this substance, and the buildup can be lethal to the patient.
Although PKU may cause significant health issues, carriers have an advantage when it comes to protecting themselves against mycotic abortions, pregnancy losses due to fungal infection. This is most prominent in Scotland and Ireland because the atmosphere is a prime environment for fungi, some of which can cause mycotic abortions. Phenylalanine, which causes the health issues in PKU patients, fight against the major toxin in most fungi that cause spontaneous abortions. Since PKU carriers have a large amount of phenylalanine, they are able to better fend off infectious fungi and protect their unborn offspring.
Myasthenia Gravis and Rabies
There is a correlation between patients with Myasthenia Gravis and the prevention of rabies. Myasthenia gravis is a muscular disease in which the voluntarily moved muscles become fatigued and are weakened. This is caused by faulty connections between the nervous system and the muscular system. Rabies infects the nervous system best through the skeletal muscles, probably because rabies is usually transmitted through animal bites.
Since rabies is commonly injected into the muscular system by a bite, those afflicted with myasthenia gravis are much less susceptible to rabies because they have faulty connections between the muscles and the nerves. It is very difficult for rabies to cause harm to the nervous system when it cannot enter it in the first place. Although the muscles are not the only point of entry rabies has into the central nervous system, they are a significant entry point for the peripheral nervous system. This can prevent the infection or prolong it until the patient can seek medical attention.
Niemann-Pick Disease and Ebola
Niemann-Pick is a disease where cholesterol abnormally accumulates within lysosomes. The cholesterol accumulates because of a shortage of a specific protein called NPC1, which will transport the cholesterol out of the lysosomes. It has been proven that the NPC1 protein is associated with the Ebola infection process. The Ebola virus has been documented to poorly infect fibroblasts of patients who have the Niemann-Pick disease, while it did better in fibroblasts where NPC1 was abundant.
Basically, the Ebola virus cannot efficiently infect people with the Niemann-Pick disease because, without the presence of NPC1, it is extremely difficult to do so.
Niemann-Pick Disease and Marburg
Similar to the Ebola virus, Niemann-Pick disease promotes resistance to Marburg. Marburg is a filovirus, like Ebola, and has a high mortality rate. It causes hemorrhages and severe shock syndrome, mostly fatal among humans and nonhuman primates.
Much like with Ebola, Niemann-Pick disease patients resist Marburg by having a shortage of NPC1, which enables filo-viruses to reproduce and spread. Because these viruses are unable to spread, it is much easier for patients with the Niemann-Pick disease to fight Marburg, since it is no longer deadly if it cannot reproduce.
Congenital Disorder of Glycosylation 2b and Viral Infections
Congenital disorder of glycosylation 2b (CDG-IIb) has been shown to prevent viral infections such as HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus), influenza, herpes, and hepatitis C. This extremely rare disease causes resistance to viral infections by the presence of a “defective mannosyl-oligosaccharide glucosidase (MOGS), which is the initial enzyme in the processing phase of N-linked oligosaccharides.”
This basically means that glycoprotein synthesis is not able to function properly. Viruses depend on proper cell glycosylation for reproduction, and because CDG-IIb patients do not have proper glycosylation, these viruses are unable to be maintained. Studies show that people with CDG-IIb responded normally to non-replicating viruses but did not respond to live glycosylation-dependent virus vaccines. MOGS inhibitors also prevent the replication of cells infected with enveloped viruses, and this means that the viruses are unable to spread.
These were the top 7 diseases that help prevent other diseases. Missed any other diseases that help prevent other diseases? If yes, share your thoughts in the comment section below.