Scientists find way to eradicate malaria through mosquito’s stomach | Fox NewsPosted: July 17, 2012
According to the researchers, the bacterium successfully inhibited the development of the deadliest human malaria parasite, known as Plasmodium falciparum, and the rodent malaria parasite, Plasmodium berghei, by up to 98 percent in a small preliminary study. The bacterium reduced the prevalence of malaria among the mosquitoes by up to 84 percent. Past approaches to fighting malaria in mosquitoes focused around genetically modifying the insects themselves to resist malaria. However, scientists found – while successful in the lab – it was much more difficult to spread the genetic changes in nature.“We changed the strategy, taking advantage of the fact that mosquitoes, like humans, carry big population of bacteria in their guts,” Jacobs-Lorena said. “We took one of bacteria and engineered it to produce anti-malaria proteins. We re-introduced it back into the mosquitoes and found it works quite well.” The reason this approach cannot be taken in humans, he added, is that while mosquitoes carry malaria in their guts, malaria nearly exclusively spreads through the bloodstream to the liver in humans – completely bypassing the gut.Ethical concernsAmong mosquitoes, Jacobs-Lorena believes the bacterium can spread rapidly, through relatively low-cost, low-tech means. By simply soaking cotton balls in sugar and the bacteria, then placing the cotton balls in clay jars where mosquitoes tend to dwell, the insects feed on the cotton balls and contract the bacteria. The major challenge instead, according to Jacobs-Lorena, will likely be the regulatory and ethical issues associated with releasing genetically modified organisms in nature.