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An Answer to Malaria Has Been Found In the Form of a Non-Toxic Spray That Stops Mosquitoes From Reproducing

An Answer to Malaria Has Been Found In the Form of a Non-Toxic Spray That Stops Mosquitoes From Reproducing

Malaria, the scourge of humankind ever since man first set foot on planet Earth, is still with us today. But in recent years, at least as of 2010, the number of malaria infections has dropped significantly. Nevertheless, there are still 91 countries around the world, mostly in tropical areas, which still face a serious problem when it comes to this deadly disease and over half a million people die from it each year.

What’s more, the progress made thus far could be halted with the rising insecticide resistance of mosquitoes. Fortunately, however, a team from Harvard University may have found a solution. They discovered a non-toxic chemical which, more or less neuters these malaria-carrying mosquitoes. Malaria is caused by a parasite, Plasmodium falciparum, which is carried by some mosquitoes. What this substance does is that it disrupts the normal reproductive cycles of mosquito females. When they come in contact with this synthetic chemical called DBH (dibenzoylhydrazine), the females lay fewer eggs, don’t mate as much or as successfully and die faster than unaffected ones.

There is also a strong correlation between the quantity of DBH and its effectiveness. The mosquitoes treated with this substance have also shown a decrease in their own infection with the malaria parasite.The chemical was used in both bed nets and as a spray with equal effect. And since the DBH is non-toxic it doesn’t affect people’s health or the well-being of the environment.

“The study demonstrates the importance of basic research on mosquito biology for developing new tools against malaria,” said Caroline Buckee, co-senior author and assistant professor of epidemiology at Harvard Chan School.

“Modeling the impact of these effects on Anopheles population dynamics and Plasmodium transmission predicts that disrupting steroid hormone signaling using 20E agonists would affect malaria transmission to a similar extent as insecticides. Manipulating 20E pathways therefore provides a powerful new approach to tackle malaria transmission by the mosquito vector, particularly in areas affected by the spread of insecticide resistance,” the authors wrote in the journal PLOS Pathogens.