30th July 2021
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Scientists have developed a genetically enhanced fungus that kills malaria causing mosquitoes. The fungus are enhanced to produce spider toxins which then kill the mosquitoes. During the trials, the toxins killed 99% of the mosquitoes within 45 days. Preliminary tests have shown that the fungus did not affect other insects but only killed the mosquitoes.

The study was conducted in Burkina Faso by the University of Maryland and the IRRS Research Institute. To conduct this study, a fake village was produced measuring 6,500-sq-ft. it contained plants, huts, water sources and food for the mosquitoes. To prevent anything from escaping, the fake village was surrounded by a double layer of mosquito nets.

Source: BBC/Etienne Bilgo

The researchers say they do not aim to make the insects extinct but to curb the spread of malaria. Dr Brain Lovett, from the University of Maryland told the BBC that “our technology is not aiming to drive the extinction of mosquitoes, what we’re aiming to do is break malaria transmission in an area.”

The next step is to carry out the tests in a real world scenario. Malaria is caused by a type of parasite known as plasmodium. This parasite is spread by the female anopheles mosquitoes. Malaria is widespread in tropical and subtropical regions especially sub-sahara Africa. It causes thousands of deaths every year and approximately 90% of cases occur in Africa.

With the development of this mosquito killing fungus, what does this mean for Africa? Is it yet Uhuru? Or should we be worried? What do you think?

Feature Image by Jim Gathany – This media comes from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Public Health Image Library (PHIL).

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