A group of scientists from the United States developed a technique to "cure" malaria mosquitoes instead of eliminating them with insecticides, according to a study published on Wednesday in Nature. The goal is the same: to prevent people from spreading this disease to humans.
The research, led by the T.H. Chan of Harvard University, showed that the drug atovaquone, usually given to people to prevent and treat malaria, It is also effective in these insects.
While humans take orally, mosquitoes they can absorb it through your legs, when they come into contact with a surface to which atovaquone has been applied, for example in bed nets.
Experts found that mosquitoes treated with this drug, which was introduced in the year 2000, has completely "blocked" the development of the parasite Plasmodium falciparumcause of malaria.
"Mosquitoes are extraordinarily resistant organisms and have developed resistance against all the insecticides that were used to kill them. By eliminating the malaria parasites inside the mosquito, instead of killing it, we can effectively prevent the transmission of malaria, "said Flaminia, Catteruccia, professor of immunology and infectious diseases.
In their view, the use of anti-mosquito nets can help combat this "devastating disease" since it is about a "simple but innovative idea" which is "safe" for people and, moreover, "respectful of the environment".
In the last 20 years, the application of insecticides to mosquito nets prevented about 68% of malaria cases, although some species have recently developed resistance to the more common repellents, such as the so-called pyrethroids, commonly used in homes and agriculture.
For this study, the scientists exposed female Anopheles mosquitoes to the antimalarial compound atovaquone in order to apply a prophylactic treatment capable of blocking the development and transmission of the parasite Plasmodium falciparum.
They discovered that insects completely nullified the parasite with relatively low concentrations of atovaquone (100 micromoles per square meter) and exposures of six minutes, a time comparable to that of mosquitoes in insecticide-treated nets.
Specialists also obtained similar results with other similar drugs, although atovaquone, they emphasize, has no effect on life expectancy or reproductive capacity of mosquitoes.
"When we use a mathematical model with real-world data on insecticide resistance, mosquito protection and malaria prevalence, we note that the complementary use of a compound such as atovaquone can significantly reduce malaria transmission in almost all malaria conditions. we had data in Africa, "said Douglas Paton, the study's lead author.