Washington: A new study has suggested that a genetically engineered fungus carrying genes for a human anti-malarial antibody or a scorpion anti-malarial toxin could be a highly effective, specific and environmentally friendly tool for combating malaria.University of Maryland-led team of scientists said that this general approach could be used for controlling other devastating insect and tick bug-borne diseases, such as or dengue fever and Lyme disease."Though applied here to combat malaria, our transgenic fungal approach is a very flexible one that allows design and delivery of gene products targeted to almost any disease-carrying arthropod," said Raymond St. Leger, a professor of Entomology at the University of Maryland."In this current study we show that spraying malaria-transmitting mosquitoes with a fungus genetically altered to produce molecules that target malaria-causing sporozoites could reduce disease transmission to humans by at least five-fold compared to using an un-engineered fungus," said Leger.The researchers created their transgenic anti-malarial fungus, by starting with Metarhizium anisopliae, a fungus that naturally attacks mosquitoes, and then inserting into it genes for a human antibody or a scorpion toxin. Both the antibody and the toxin specifically target the malaria-causing parasite P. falciparum.
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