Bacteria being used to fight malaria
Washington: Research conducted at Michigan State University demonstrated that mosquitoes could be equally adept in curing diseases such as malaria.
The new study shows that the transmission of malaria via mosquitoes to humans can be interrupted by using a strain of the bacteria Wolbachia in the insects.
In a sense, Wolbachia would act as a vaccine of sorts for mosquitoes that would protect them from malaria parasites.
Treating mosquitoes would prevent them from transmitting malaria to humans, a disease that in 2010 affected 219 million people and caused an estimated 660,000 deaths.
"Wolbachia-based malaria control strategy has been discussed for the last two decades," Zhiyong Xi, MSU assistant professor of microbiology and molecular genetics said.
"Our work is the first to demonstrate Wolbachia can be stably established in a key malaria vector, the mosquito species Anopheles stephensi, which opens the door to use Wolbachia for malaria control," Xi said.
First, Xi`s team successfully demonstrated how Wolbachia can be carried by this malaria mosquito vector and how the insects can spread the bacteria throughout the entire mosquito population. Secondly, researchers showed that the bacteria can prevent those mosquitoes from transmitting malaria parasites to humans.
The team then introduced various ratios of Wolbachia-infected females into a noninfected mosquito population. In each case, the entire population carried the bacteria in eight generations or less.
Using this promising approach to tackle malaria - the biggest vector-borne disease - gives scientists and world health officials another important tool to fight malaria.
The study is published in the journal Science.