News / Health

Scientists Developing New Weapon Against Malaria

 FILE - In this June 4, 2012 file photo, vehicles move past Pakistani day laborers sleeping under a mosquito net. A new insecticide could be sprayed on nets to kill mosquitoes.(AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen, File)
FILE - In this June 4, 2012 file photo, vehicles move past Pakistani day laborers sleeping under a mosquito net. A new insecticide could be sprayed on nets to kill mosquitoes.(AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen, File)

Related Articles

Program Launched to Counter Drug-Resistant Malaria

Government, health partners put in place program to prevent falciparum malaria from spreading

Malaria-Infected Mosquitoes More Attracted to Humans

Each year, malaria infects more than 200 million people worldwide, and claims an estimated 660,000 lives

Scientists Race to Contain Malaria: New Discoveries, More Resistance

World Health Organization is warning about dire consequences if drug-resistant form of malaria spreads beyond southeast Asia
VOA News
Scientists are making progress in developing a new species-specific insecticide that would be lethal only to insects that carry malaria.

According to scientists at Virginia Tech and the University of Florida the insecticide would be far less toxic to beneficial insects such as bees. They say the insecticide is formulated to interfere with an enzyme found in the nervous system of mosquitoes and other organisms called acetylcholinesterase. If the effectiveness of the enzyme is disrupted, it causes an organism to convulse and die.

“A simple analogy would be that we’re trying to make a key that fits perfectly into a lock,” said entomologist Jeff Bloomquist, a professor at the University of Florida's Emerging Pathogens Institute and its Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. “We want to shut down the enzyme, but only in target species.”

Scientists are trying to perfect the mosquito-specific compounds and manufacture them on a large scale so that they can be applied to netting where mosquitoes might land. They say it will take at least four to five years before a compound is ready to be submitted for federal approval.

The team recently published a study in the journal Pesticide Biochemistry and Physiology comparing eight experimental compounds with commercially available insecticides that target the enzyme.

Though they were less toxic to mosquitoes than commercial products, the experimental compounds were far more selective, indicating researchers are on the right track, Bloomquist said.

“The compounds we’re using are not very toxic to honeybees, fish and mammals, but we need to refine them further, make them more toxic to mosquitoes and safer for non-target organisms,” he said.

Malaria is caused by microscopic organisms called protists, which are present in the saliva of infected female mosquitoes and transmitted when the mosquitoes bite. Initial symptoms of the disease can include fever, chills, convulsions, headaches and nausea. In severe cases, malaria can cause kidney failure, coma and death.

Worldwide, malaria infected about 219 million people in 2010 and killed about 660,000, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 90 percent of those infected lived in Africa.

You May Like

South Korea Divided on Response to North’s Cyber Attack

In past five years, officials in Seoul have accused Pyongyang of hacking into banks, government websites, causing chaos and inflicting millions of dollars in damages More

Video Calm Amid Fear in Daily Life in S. Sudan’s Bentiu

Residents have been trying to regain some sense of normalcy, but planning for the future remains uncertain as fear of attacks looms More

2015 Could Be Watershed for Syria Conflict

Republican control of US Senate in January could lead to more aggressive policy against IS militants in Syria - and against regime of Bashar al-Assad More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ugandan Doctors Aid Victims of Sudan's Civil Wari
X
Adam Bailes
December 22, 2014 3:45 PM
In Sudan's state of South Kordofan, the number of amputees as result of civil war is in the thousands, but few have access to sufficient medical help. Adam Bailes recently visited the area and says a small team of Ugandan doctors has been providing remote help, producing new prosthetic limbs for those in need.
Video

Video Ugandan Doctors Aid Victims of Sudan's Civil War

In Sudan's state of South Kordofan, the number of amputees as result of civil war is in the thousands, but few have access to sufficient medical help. Adam Bailes recently visited the area and says a small team of Ugandan doctors has been providing remote help, producing new prosthetic limbs for those in need.
Video

Video Jane Monheit Christmas Special

Chanteuse Jane Monheit sings the holiday classic “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” and explains why it’s her favorite song of the season.
Video

Video Calm Amid Fear in Daily Life in S. Sudan’s Town of Bentiu

Six months ago, Bentiu was a ghost town. The capital of northern Unity State, near South Sudan’s important oil fields, had changed hands several times in fighting between government forces and rebels. Calm returned in November and since then, residents of Bentiu have been trying to regain some sense of normalcy. Bentiu’s market has reopened there are plans to start school again. But fears of new attacks hang heavy, as Benno Muchler reports from Bentiu.
Video

Video US Business Groups Press for Greater Access to Cuba

President Barack Obama's decision to do all he can to ease restrictions on U.S. trade, travel and financial activities with Cuba has drawn criticism from some conservatives and Republicans. People who bring tourists to the island and farmers who want to sell more food to Cuba, however, think they can do a lot more business with Cuba. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.

All About America

AppleAndroid