Thank you for your reading and interest in the news Scientists find ‘breakthrough’ malaria microbe that can stop disease spread and now with details
Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - A microbe found in mosquitoes could prevent the insects from becoming malaria carriers and, in turn, might offer a way to halt the spread of the disease to humans, researchers in Kenya and the United Kingdom found.
A study published this week in the Nature Communications journal said that the microbe offers “enormous potential” for controlling the deadly disease.
About 400,000 people are killed by malaria every year.
The microbe Microsporidia MB was found in mosquitoes on the shores of Lake Victoria in Kenya.
Researchers said they found no malaria-harbouring mosquitoes there, and lab tests confirmed that Microsporidia MB prevented the transmission of the malaria Plasmodium parasite among the insects.
“The data we have so far suggest it is 100 per cent blockage, it’s a very severe blockage of malaria,” Dr Jeremy Herren, from the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology in Kenya, told the BBC.
“It will come as a quite a surprise. I think people will find that a real big breakthrough.”
The next big challenge will be how to spread Microsporidia MB through the general mosquito population.
The researchers believe at least 40 per cent of all mosquitoes in the region would need to be infected with Microsporidia MB to reduce malaria infections in humans.
Because the microbe can be spread from females to offspring, the scientists are looking at ways to either spread it en masse in the environment or to release a number of males carrying the microbe into the population.
For now, the scientists plan to do more tests and studies in Kenya to get a better understanding of how the microbe could be spread among mosquitoes.
While there are a number of drugs available that help stop infections, they can be costly, are not 100 per cent effective and often come with significant side effects.
Mosquito nets as well as repellents are also widely used to try to prevent bites in the first place.
Over the last 15 years, massive insecticide programmes in at-risk countries have helped bring the number of global cases down by 40 per cent.
The study said that these control measures “are insufficient and additional novel strategies ... are needed if we are to make further inroads in reducing malaria incidence”.
A malaria drug itself has been the centre of attention in recent weeks because of the coronavirus outbreak.
Authorities in the United States previously allowed narrow use of hydroxychloroquine for coronavirus patients who were being treated in hospital.
American President Donald Trump repeatedly promoted it as a possible Covid-19 treatment, but no large high-quality studies have shown the medicine is effective for this purpose.
The Food and Drug Administration warned doctors late last month against prescribing the medicine outside of hospital or research settings, because of the risk of sometimes fatal cardiac side effects.
The agency made the announcements after receiving new reports of injury and death related to the medicine, which is also used to treat lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.
Two small studies published on Friday added to concerns about hydroxychloroquine.
Critically ill Covid-19 patients given the pill-based medicine were prone to heart rhythm problems, and for many people, risks mounted when it was combined with an antibiotic, the studies found.
Updated: May 5, 2020 09:56 PM
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