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The microbe that stops malaria

Scientists have discovered a microbe that completely protects mosquitoes from being infected with malaria.

The team in Kenya and the UK said the finding has “enormous potential” to control the disease.

They are now investigating whether they can release infected mosquitoes into the wild, or use spores to suppress the disease.

Microsporidia MB, which lives in the guts and genitals of the insects, was discovered by studying mosquitoes on the shores of Lake Victoria in Kenya.

The researchers could not find a single mosquito carrying Microsporidia MB that was harbouring the malaria parasite and laboratory experiments confirmed the microbe gave the mosquitoes protection.

Microsporidia are closely related to fungi and most are parasites.

However, this new species may be beneficial to the mosquito and was naturally found in around 5% of the insects studied.

Jeremy Herren, from the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology in Kenya, said the data collected by the scientists suggests “100% blockage” of malaria.

He added: “It will come as a quite a surprise. I think people will find that a real big breakthrough.”  

go.nature.com/2Z7CHe2

 

Image Credit | iStock

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