Mosquito nets impregnated with malaria medicine, a new tool


The impregnation of mosquito nets with an antimalarial drug often used in humans may become a new tool to fight the disease, as certain mosquitoes have become resistant to insecticides, according to a study published on Wednesday.

The use of insecticides in mosquito nets has for years been part of the resources recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) to prevent mosquito bites from malaria, also known as malaria.

According to a 2015 study, infections have been reduced by two-thirds worldwide since 2000 with this method.

But more and more mosquitoes have developed resistance to the insecticides so far used, which questions the effectiveness of this strategy.

The WHO warned in November about the stagnation in recent years of fighting an epidemic that affected 219 million people and caused 435,000 deaths by 2017.

A team of researchers at Harvard University (Boston, USA) has designed an alternative route that does not kill mosquitoes, but eliminates the parasite Plasmodium, responsible for the disease they are carrying.

Scientists have replicated a similar situation in the laboratory when a mosquito falls into a mosquito net. The insects were fed with blood contaminated with the parasite and were then contacted for six minutes with a surface covered with a low dose of Atovaquone or ATQ, an anti-malarial drug.

In humans, this type of preventive medicine kills the parasite and inhibits mitochondrial functions. According to the article published in the journal Nature, the same result was obtained by exposing the insects directly to the ATQ.

"We tested two types of malaria drugs and this worked very well with ATQ: all parasites were eliminated!" Explained Flaminia Catteruccia, professor of infectious diseases at Harvard and co-author of the study.

This method is "safe for people sleeping under mosquito nets and for the environment," said Catteruccia, and has also been effective in putting mosquitoes in contact with the drug 24 hours before ingesting infected blood.

According to the computational model developed by the researchers, this method "would significantly compensate the effects of mosquito resistance to insecticides" in the fight against malaria.

Investigations in this regard are still in the preliminary stages.


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