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

Australia Knights Prince Philip, Sparking National Outrage

Abbott's surprise reintroduction of knights and dames in the country's honors system last year drew criticism that he was out of touch with national sentiment More

SAG Award Boosts 'Birdman' Oscar Hopes

Individual acting Oscars appear to be sewn up: SAG awards went to artists who won Golden Globes: Julianne Moore, Eddie Redmayne, Patricia Arquette, J.K. Simmons More

Katy Perry Lights Way for Super Bowl's Girl Power Moment

Pop star's selection to headline US football championship's halftime show extends NFL's trend of selecting artists who appeal to younger viewers More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sidesi
X
June Soh
January 23, 2015 10:03 PM
The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, even music are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. Faith Lapidus narrates a report from VOA’s June Soh.
Video

Video Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sides

The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, even music are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. Faith Lapidus narrates a report from VOA’s June Soh.
Video

Video Progress, Some Areas of Disagreement in Cuba Talks

U.S. and Cuban officials are reporting progress from initial talks in Havana on re-establishing diplomatic ties. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State (for Western Hemisphere Affairs) Roberta Jacobson said while there was agreement on a broad range of issues, there also are some “profound disagreements” between Washington and Havana. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins has the story.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.
Video

Video US Marching Bands Grow Into a Show of Their Own

The 2014 Super Bowl halftime show was the most-watched in history - attracting an estimated 115 million viewers. That event featured pop star Bruno Mars. But the halftime show tradition started with marching bands, which still dominate the entertainment at U.S. high school and college American football games. But as Enming Liu reports in this story narrated by Adrianna Zhang, marching bands have grown into a show of their own.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid