News / Science & Technology

Birth Control Plugs Male Malaria Mosquitoes

Mating of some disease-carrying mosquitoes would not result in births if scientists can disable the male’s mating plug. (University College London/Sam Cotton)
Mating of some disease-carrying mosquitoes would not result in births if scientists can disable the male’s mating plug. (University College London/Sam Cotton)
Rosanne Skirble
A team of scientists at Yale University is working on a new birth-control drug for male mosquitos that could slow the malaria epidemic, a disease that sickens more than 215 million people, killing 655,000 each year.  

Only female Anopheles gambiae mosquitos transmit malaria to humans and they are the principle vector for the disease. But chemistry professor Richard Baxter and his team at Yale University are focused on the males.
 
Malaria mosquitos mate in airborne swarms. Unlike any other insect, the male inserts a gooey plug to seal its sperm inside the female during mating to ensure reproductive success.

At a meeting of the American Chemical Society in Philadelphia this week, Baxter and his colleagues announced a new approach for screening chemical compounds that would inhibit formation of the mating plug.
Malaria-Control-Tool
Malaria-Control-Tooli
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X


This sterile insect technique has been successfully deployed in Africa against tsetse flies that transmit sleeping sickness, and in the United States to control the screwworm fly, which was once responsible for millions of dollars in losses in the cattle industry and has since been eradicated. 
Two boys sit under a net in Patigo, Papua New Guinea in this file photo. While indoor spraying and insecticide treated bed nets have been important tools for malaria control, mosquitos are becoming resistant to such measures.Two boys sit under a net in Patigo, Papua New Guinea in this file photo. While indoor spraying and insecticide treated bed nets have been important tools for malaria control, mosquitos are becoming resistant to such measures.
x
Two boys sit under a net in Patigo, Papua New Guinea in this file photo. While indoor spraying and insecticide treated bed nets have been important tools for malaria control, mosquitos are becoming resistant to such measures.
Two boys sit under a net in Patigo, Papua New Guinea in this file photo. While indoor spraying and insecticide treated bed nets have been important tools for malaria control, mosquitos are becoming resistant to such measures.

Baxter says this is important because malaria mosquitos are becoming resistant to insecticides and adapting to indoor control measures by biting outdoors, during the day.  

“So the idea is if we can actually suppress the mosquito, we will prevent the transmission of the disease and then eventually if you prevent transmission for several seasons, you will eradicate the parasite that itself causes the disease without eradicating the mosquito.”   

Over the next several months, Baxter will test various chemicals to see which ones disable the proteins, so mating would be unsuccessful. 

“If that works in the lab, then we can move on to semi-field trails, where we have a large cage, which is outdoors," he says.  "That would test the efficacy of the compound in a more realistic setting.”

After mosquitos are fed the inhibiting compound, the modified males would be released to mate with wild females. With no resulting offspring, the population would be reduced without the use of pesticides.

You May Like

Video On The Scene: In Gaza, Darkness Brings Dread and Death

Palestinians fear nighttime bombardment, VOA correspondent finds More

African Small Farmers Could Be Key to Ending Food Insecurity

Experts say providing access to microloans, crop insurance, better storage facilities, irrigation, road systems and market information could enable greater production More

University of Michigan Wins Solar Car Race

Squad guided its student-designed solar-powered vehicle to fifth consecutive time victory in eight-day bi-annual American Solar Challenge More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Muhammad Moinuddin from: Bangladesh
August 27, 2012 9:27 AM
If the mating of mosquitoes can be disturbed, say, by using adulticides or any chemical which interfares with the ferumen which attract a male mosquito to find the opposite partner and mate, the overall population of mosquitoes of that area, should be reduced for not being successful in mating.


by: SkeeterBoy from: Italy
August 23, 2012 2:19 AM
If they don't mate properly, wouldn't they just go find another male that does?


by: littleyan from: china
August 22, 2012 10:28 PM
it is the female mosquitoes that bite people and transmit malaria,so we often put our attention on the females,how we can do with the female mosquitoes??but how about the males?!! personally,i think the researchers in this study are so brilliant!hope this method can do a good job!

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid