Fungus Cures Mosquitoes of Malaria

May prove durable weapon against the spread of the disease
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 25, 2011 6:17 AM CST
Fungus Cures Mosquitoes of Malaria
Mosquitoes beware.   (Shutterstock)

Scientists are trying a new approach to stop the spread of malaria: Rather than attempt to kill the mosquitoes outright, they're using a genetically-altered fungus to kill the parasite in the mosquitoes who spread it, NPR reports. "The trick we did was to engineer the fungus so that it produces a protein which is anti-malarial," notes one scientist. It "acts like a little hypodermic syringe," basically curing the mosquito within a few days ... and eventually killing it.

Though many approaches have been tried—insecticides, plant toxins, other fungi—it’s tough to find a permanent solution to the mosquito problem. Thus far, “mosquitoes have managed to outflank every attempt we've made to control them by some evolutionary trick or other,” says a researcher. But since this fungus doesn’t kill them immediately, there’s less evolutionary pressure on the mosquitoes to develop a way around the problem—pointing to a more durable solution. NPR notes that it will likely be some time before scientists get the OK to release a genetically modified fungus into the environment. (Read more malaria stories.)

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