Chinese scientists have found a way that may possibly stop mosquitoes spreading malaria, a serious infectious disease that the World Health Organization said took the life of one child every two minutes around the globe.
The disease affects between 200 million and 300 million people worldwide every year according to the WHO. Mosquitoes spread the disease when they infect human beings with Plasmodium, malaria parasites that is transmitted through a bite.
A symbiotic bacterium obtained from within the body of mosquitoes was discovered by the team of researchers in Shanghai and was genetically modified to carry anti-malaria genes whose products arrest the survival and development of the parasites in the intestinal tract of mosquitoes if it is fed to mosquitoes.
More importantly, the bacteria can be spread among mosquitoes quickly and widely by mating, and can be passed on to the next generation.
"When mosquitoes with such bacteria lay eggs in the water, the bacteria adhered to the surface of their eggs will propagate in the water and are ingested by the hatched larvae of the other mosquitoes so that the capability of inhibiting the spread of the disease can be spread to different mosquitoes rapidly," said Wang Sibao, lead researcher of the team from the Institute of Plant Physiology and Ecology, a branch of the Shanghai Institutes for Biological Sciences of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
He said lab tests of the research have been completed, and the team will conduct field experiments in some African countries.
The research may bring new insights to the approaches to inhibit the spread of other infectious diseases, such as dengue fever, which is also spread by mosquitoes, according to the institute.
A paper about their findings was published on the website of Science on Friday Beijing time.