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January 09, 2008

Novel malaria prevention -- cure the mosquitoes

Researchers at RPI have discovered that malarial mosquitoes have the same receptor attractive to the malaria parasite that humans do.

... But instead of treating humans infected by malaria, Robert Lindhardt wants to treat infected mosquitoes.

"The mosquito is as much a victim as we are, but nobody thinks of the mosquito that way," said Lindhardt, a biochemist and acting director of RPI's Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies...

...It was grueling work under a microscope. Sure enough, the Anopheles stephensi, the mosquito that carries the form of malaria that infects humans, has the same receptor...

...Lindhardt hopes his discovery may lead to a cheap and safe cure, and he'll pursue that cure in the next phase of his research. It could be a drug cocktail that blocks the receptor in mosquitoes, or maybe creating genetically altered mosquitoes that could overtake the wild population.

The approach of treating the mosquito has the advantage of being less controversial, Lindhardt said -- nobody cares if the mosquitoes suffer any side effects...

Mosquitoes as victims. It may take me a while to get my head around that. Genetically modified mosquitoes sounds promising though. PETM is already organizing tree sitting protests to start in the spring.


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posted by Purp at 07:50 PM

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