This microbe "completely stops" malaria and proposes a way to avoid the 400,000 deaths a year from this disease.
A group of researchers in Kenya have discovered a microbe that is capable of fully protecting mosquitoes and preventing them from becoming infected with malaria.
This finding has "enormous potential" to minimize the impact of malaria, a disease that kills 400,000 people each year, most of them children under the age of five.
A hope to eradicate malaria almost entirely
The team of researchers discovered the microbe by conducting a study on mosquitoes on the shore of Lake Victoria in Kenya. It is known as Microsporidia MB, and lives in the intestines and genitals of insects.
Data from the World Health Organization reveal how in 2017 it is estimated that 435,000 deaths from malaria occurred, of which 403,000 took place in Africa. Source: WHO
The curious thing about this microbe is that not one of the mosquitoes that had this microbe in their organisms were infected with the malaria parasite. That caused various experiments to be carried out that confirmed the suspicions: the microbe protects mosquitoes from this infection.
Although the majority of microsporidia are parasites, this new species is found in approximately 5% of the insects studied and is apparently beneficial for them. Scientists indicate that the blockage is total, and that this could pose a way to prevent the spread of this disease.
It is not yet entirely clear how the mosquito acts to stop the infection, but it seems that by inhabiting those parts of the mosquito this microbe makes that insect "uninhabitable" for the malaria parasite throughout the life of that mosquito.
The idea now is to infect at least 40% of the mosquitoes in each region with Microsporidia MB in order to stop malaria. The microbe can be transmitted between adult mosquitoes and also from the female mosquito to its offspring.
Now it remains to be seen if the method is put into practice, but it is certainly one of the most relevant advances in stopping a terrible disease, especially in the African continent, where according to the WHO 93% of cases occurred in 2018.