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Cure for Malaria in the Gut of Mosquitoes

Update Date: Jul 18, 2012 11:13 AM EDT

A latest study by US researchers claims that by modifying bacteria in the gut of the malaria mosquitoes the disease could be stopped.

Malaria is one of the most widespread and dangerous insect-transmitted human disease in the world.

The research has revealed that 'friendly' bacteria in the stomach of the mosquito alongside the malaria parasite can be modified and used to destroy the malaria causing parasite. The friendly bacteria produces certain kinds of deadly toxins which are neither harmful for humans nor does it affect the mosquito itself.

The study results provide a "foundation for the use of genetically modified symbiotic bacteria as a powerful tool to combat malaria".
"In the past, we worked to genetically modify the mosquito to resist malaria, but genetic modification of bacteria is a simpler approach," Senior author Marcelo Jacobs-Lorena, a professor with Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, Maryland was quoted as saying by Medical News Today.

The existence of the "friendly" bacteria and the fact that the most vulnerable stage of development of Plasmodium, the mosquito parasite that causes malaria, occurs in the lumen of the mid-gut in the mosquito was already known to the researchers.

In their previous study, the researchers Jacobs-Lorena had already established that one of the symbiotic bacteria, Pantoea agglomerans (friendly bacteria), can be genetically modified to secrete "antimalaria effector molecules" that are toxic to the malaria parasite, the report said.

In this latest study of theirs, the researchers describe how "Escherichia coli hemolysin A secretion system" can be used to make Pantoea agglomerans secrete a range of anti-Plasmodium effector molecules.

Every year, Malaria affects more than 800,000 people and many cases end up in death.

Malaria can be prevented by taking some precautions at home and by following some simple measures like using insect repellent and bed nets can help prevent transmission from mosquitoes to humans.

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