RESEARCHERS say they have identified genes that make some African mosquitoes resistant to insecticide. They hope the breakthrough could boost efforts to prevent the deadly disease.
Knowing which genes help the mosquitoes dodge pesticides could point to ways to make better ones that are safer for people, too, said Charles Wondji of the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine.
Malaria is one of the deadliest diseases worldwide, killing 880,000 people a year. A parasite transmitted by mosquitoes causes the disease and it has become resistant to some drugs.
Killing mosquitoes with insecticides is one way to prevent malaria but finding potent, low-cost chemicals safe for humans is difficult, Wondji and colleagues said.
In the study published in the journal Genome Research, the team studied strains of the anopheles mosquito that are both susceptible and resistant to a commonly used insecticide.
This allowed them to link defence against insecticides to two genes considered a first line of resistance to toxins.
The genes have been associated with resistance in the other major malaria-causing mosquito strain in Africa.
And, because humans do not have these genes, scientists may be able to develop new chemicals to kill mosquitoes that are not poisonous to people.
â€œRoutine use of these markers for resistance will provide warning of future control problems due to insecticide resistance,â€ said Hilary Ranso, the lead researcher. â€œThis should enhance our ability to reduce the devastating effects of resistance on malaria control.â€
Mosquito genes for malaria fight