Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

Fighting Malaria By Modifying Friendly Bacteria In Mosquito Gut

Malaria is preventable and curable

Malaria is preventable and curable (Photo credit: Novartis AG)

This method of malarial control is not without controversy***, especially among folks who are against genetic engineering of any kind.

Back in 1980-81 I came down with malaria four times in Liberia where I served as a Peace Corps volunteer. Each time I came down with it on a Tuesday after forgetting to take my weekly preventative (Chloroquine) on Sunday. Thankfully each time it was similar to a mild flu bug and I was back at work the next day.

Since then, Chloroquine is ineffective in Liberia. The malarial strains are much more virulent. Back in the early 80’s the virulent malarial strains in Africa were mostly in East Africa.

From the 17 July 2012 article at Medical News today

By genetically modifying gut bacteria in the malaria mosquito, US researchers have found a potentially powerful way to fight malaria. The modified “friendly” bacteria, which live in the midgut of the mosquito alongside the malaria parasite, produce toxins that are deadly to the parasite but do not harm humans or mosquitoes…

..”In the past, we worked to genetically modify the mosquito to resist malaria, but genetic modification of bacteria is a simpler approach.”..

…The battle against malaria has to be fought on a number of fronts: insect repellent and bed nets can help prevent transmission from mosquitoes to humans, but work like that of Jacobs-Lorena and colleagues helps to find ways to control malaria one step earlier by eliminating infection within the mosquito itself.

In May 2011, another team from Johns Hopkins University reported identifying a class of naturally occurring bacteria that can strongly inhibit malaria parasites in mosquitoes. They found the presence of Enterobacter reduced various developmental stages of P. falciparum, including the stage that is transmitted to humans through a mosquito bite, were reduced by 98 to 99%….

Related Resources


  • the Organic Review: GM Exterminators Inserted into Intestines to Stop Malaria
    “Those mosquitos that contained genetically modified gut bacteria, alternative to the actual GM mosquitos, have been proven to conquer Plasmodium bacterium in both human and rodent populations by nearly 100%. The question that remains is if such genetic modifications can cause other negative affects to healthy functioning parts or other bacteria in the mosquitos or is spread to other animals or humans. Results after further studying could possibly lead to new circumstances.” 

July 18, 2012 - Posted by | environmental health | , ,

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