Malaria fighting bacteria

Life cycle of the malaria parasite. Image Source: Stanford University

Researchers, Jacobs-Lorena et al., at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health have altered a harmless bacteria (Pantoea agglomerans) naturally found in the midgut of mosquitos to fight malaria by producing and releasing proteins that are toxic to malaria but harmless to mosquitos or humans. Since the gut is where the malaria parasite reproduces, this is the optimal location to put an end to it. The engineered bacteria were indeed successful at reducing the number of malaria oocysts by 98% in mosquitos with the bacteria compared to untreated mosquitos. In addition, less than 20% of mosquitos with engineered bacteria contracted malaria after drinking contaminated blood.

Prior research has focused on altering the genetics of mosquitos in an effort to stop the spread of malaria. This new technique will offer many of the same challenges: how to get the engineered bacteria to the mosquitos in the wild since the anti-malarial bacteria may be less fit compared to unmodified bacteria.

Johns Hopkins Malaria Research Institute

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this is a brilliant discovery!! i am particularly interested because i live in the tropics, and poverty coupled with ignorance and plain stupidity makes battling malaria a major challenge especially among children. i am typing this comment in the comfort of a insecticide-treated mosquito net, but NOT everybody can afford it.

By Joseph Dwumoh (not verified) on 18 Jul 2012 #permalink

Yes it looks good but how long does the testing phase take into account unforseen mutations that may make the mosquito even more deadly, not a downer here but more a devils advocate.

The prickly pear cane toad pathway springs to mind here, obviously not as pathogenic but needs some thought.

By blue cheese (not verified) on 20 Jul 2012 #permalink

Fantastic breakthrough.

Benjamin Raucher

By BENJAMIN RAUCHER (not verified) on 21 Jul 2012 #permalink

Its a brilliant Researcher for the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health .

By ccnp certification (not verified) on 26 Jul 2012 #permalink