The germ that causes malaria has been exposed, its inner most secrets unearthed. The anopheles mosquito that spreads malaria has also been exposed at the same time
The germ that causes malaria has been exposed, its inner most secrets unearthed. The anopheles mosquito that spreads malaria has also been exposed at the same time. Now the world knows every single gene in the malaria germ and the anopheles mosquito. The two devils are now more vulnerable than ever before, thanks to the concerted efforts of more than 100 researchers working in 10 laboratories. Their works have been published in two leading scientific journals, Nature and Science.
Dr. Thomas Egwang, Director of Med Biotech Laboratories in Kampala, says the development will make it easier for scientists to produce new tools to control malaria. These include drugs, mosquito-repellents, insecticides and vaccines.
This is particularly important because malaria is increasingly becoming resistant to available drugs. Likewise, the anopheles mosquito is increasingly becoming resistant to available insecticides.
â€œThis is an early Christmas gift to all African children and pregnant women,â€ says Egwang, who is researching into malaria vaccines.
Whereas malaria can attack anybody, children and pregnant women suffer most severely. The Ministry of Health estimates that malaria kills between 70,000 and 110,000 children in Uganda every day. It also causes miscarriages, still births and under-weight babies.
The scientists found out that the malaria germ has 5,300 genes located on 14 chromosomes. They can tell which of these genes are responsible for making human beings ill, evading drugs, or the survival of the malaria germs.
The anopheles mosquito, on the other hand, has about 13,600 genes. By studying these genes closely, scientists will be able to develop new and better pesticides, or devise means to block the mosquito from transmitting malaria.
â€œNew malaria control techniques are desperately needed in Africa, and the anopheles genome has an important part to play in fighting this disease,â€ says Robert Holt, lead author of the research paper.
Chris Newbold, a malaria expert at Oxford University in UK, describes the discovery as â€œa major step forward.â€
Never in history have the malaria germ and its mosquito vector been so vulnerable. But Newbold cautions against excitement, saying there is still a long way to go.
â€œWe shouldnâ€™t be too optimistic that this is going to change the world tomorrow,â€ he told The New Scientist magazine.
Malaria secret exposed