Scientist have now modified a mosquito bug to destroy its own kind. In a new study scientists have engineered a bug found in mosquitoes, to kill the most potent form of mosquito borne parasite P.falciparum by 98%. The bug, Pantoea agglomerans, was modified to secrete proteins toxic to the malaria parasite, P. falciparum, but is harmless to mosquito or humans.
Malaria kills more than 800,000 people worldwide every year, many of them being children.
“In the past, we worked to genetically modify the mosquito to resist malaria, but genetic modification of bacteria is a simpler approach,” said Marcelo Jacobs-Lorena. The ultimate goal is to completely prevent the mosquito from spreading the malaria parasite to people. He and his colleagues found that the engineered P. agglomerans strains (mosquito gut bug), inhibited development of the P. falciparum and rodent malaria parasite P. berghei by up to 98 percent within the mosquito. “We demonstrate the use of an engineered symbiotic bacterium to interfere with the development of P. falciparum in the mosquito,” said Jacobs-Lorena. “These findings provide the foundation for the use of genetically modified symbiotic bacteria as a powerful tool to combat malaria,” he added.