According to WHO, there were 228 million cases of malaria in 2018 and there were 405,000 deaths in 2018 from Malaria. Though we have medication and malaria is preventable, we still have a high number of deaths. A recent study might have good news for us.
A new study may have found a brand new, highly effective way to stop the spread of Malaria and the irony is that it was found in mosquito only.
The team discovered a new type of spore-forming single-celled microbe which is present in mosquitoes and which they’ve called Microsporidia MB has an amazing ability to stop the transmission of Plasmodium falciparum, the parasitic protozoan which causes 99.7% of malaria cases according to WHO.
It has been found that this microbe doesn’t harm mosquito and this means that we can increase the presence of Microsporidia MB in local mosquito populations, it can stop malaria without messing up with the ecosystem.
“As a microbe that impairs Plasmodium transmission that is non-virulent and vertically transmitted, Microsporidia MB could be investigated as a strategy to limit malaria transmission.“
“We are already using a transmission-blocking symbiont called Wolbachia to control dengue, a virus transmitted by mosquitoes,” University of Glasgow microbiologist Steven Sinkins says.
“The Microsporidia MB symbiont has some similar characteristics, making it an attractive prospect for developing comparable approaches for malaria control.”
Though the study is in the early stages, the researchers found that the mosquitoes which they studied did not show the presence of the protozoa even when they let the mosquitoes drink infected blood.
Because Microsporidia MB is passed down the maternal line, once it’s in the mosquito population, it’s unlikely to be going anywhere. The team found that some areas they tested already had nine percent of the mosquito population with the malaria-busting microbe.
“Further studies will be needed to determine precisely how Microsporidia MB could be used to control malaria. The next phase of the research will investigate Microsporidia MB dynamics in large mosquito populations in screen house ‘semi-field’ facilities,” says International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology microbiologist, Jeremy Herren.
“The results of these studies will give us key information that will be used to determine how we could then disseminate Microsporidia MB for malaria control.”
A microsporidian impairs Plasmodium falciparum transmission in Anopheles arabiensis mosquitoes(Nature) DOI: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-020-16121-y