Genetically Engineered Bacteria Kills Malaria Parasite
The U.S. Scientists have genetically modified a benign bacteria residing in the mosquitoes guts in order to kill the parasite that causes malaria before it infects humans. This study was published in the Proceedings of the national Hopkins Bloomberg School of Academy of Sciences.
Despite several efforts made to control the disturbing growth of number of malaria victims, it was observed Geneva-based World Health Organization that Malaria kills a child in Africa every minute, and about half the world's population is at risk of infection.
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In the new study, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the researchers modified the bacterium, called Pantoea agglomerans, to secrete proteins that are toxic to the malaria parasite, but not harmful to the mosquito or humans.
The researchers administered genetically engineered bacteria to mosquitoes using cotton pads soaked with the germs suspended in a sugar solution. Thirty-two hours later, the insects were fed a meal of Plasmodium-infected blood.
The researchers noticed that the modified bacteria were nearly 98 percent effective in reducing the malaria parasite in the insects.
"In the past, we worked to genetically modify mosquitoes to resist malaria, but genetic modification of bacteria is a simpler approach. The ultimate goal is to completely prevent the mosquito from spreading the malaria parasite to people" Prof Marcelo Jacobs-Lorena, who led the research, said in a statement.
Jacobs-Lorena and his team found that the engineered P. agglomerans strains inhibited development of the deadliest human malaria parasite "Plasmodium falciparum" and rodent malaria parasite "Plasmodium berghei" by up to 98 per cent within the mosquito. The proportion of mosquitoes carrying parasites (prevalence) decreased by up to 84 per cent.
"We demonstrate the use of an engineered symbiotic bacterium to interfere with the development of P. falciparum in the mosquito. These findings provide the foundation for the use of genetically modified symbiotic bacteria as a powerful tool to combat malaria," added Jacobs-Lorena.
The research published today was funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Johns Hopkins Malaria Research Institute and the Bloomberg Family Foundation.