Malaria is the scourge of tropical nations, crippling its victims with symptoms like debilitating fever, convulsions and nausea, and killing half a million people annually. Now researchers in South Africa say they may have a one-size-fits-all solution, in the form of a new drug that could work with just one dose.
In trying to curb malaria, biologists and epidemiologists have pulled some dirty tricks on mosquitoes (some quite literally dirty; remember the dirty sock trap from last week?). But after all the genetic tinkering to make mosquitoes disease resistant and the laser and nano-attacks that kill the insects on the wing, this one might be the meanest of all: a genetic trick that blocks mosquitoes' ability to digest blood.
Scientists have taken a big step toward curbing the impact of malaria across the globe, but the breakthrough didn’t occur in a pharmaceutical lab. A collaboration between researchers at Imperial College London and the University of Washington has produced a gene that the team was able to effectively spread from just a few mosquitoes to most of a population in just a dozen generations. Armed with malaria inhibiting characteristics, such a gene could combat malaria at the source.