New hope against malaria as breakthrough bacteria discovered

Naturally occurring bacteria can greatly reduce malaria parasite in mosquitoes
New hope against malaria as breakthrough bacteria discovered
Malaria is usually spread by mosquitos

GSK Plc scientists have discovered a naturally occurring bacteria that can greatly reduce the malaria parasite in mosquitoes. This finding holds promise for combating malaria, which claims the lives of over 600,000 people annually. The bacteria, known as TC1, has demonstrated the ability to lower the parasite load in both the mosquito’s gut and salivary glands, potentially reducing transmission to humans. This research was published in the journal Science.

The World Health Organization aims to reduce malaria incidence and mortality by 90% and eliminate it in 35 countries by 2030. However, the widespread use of drugs and insecticides has led to parasite resistance. Further, the threat of climate change is expanding transmission into new regions.

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An important advantage of TC1 is that it does not kill the mosquitoes or affect their reproductive abilities. This minimizes the risk of the bacteria and parasite developing resistance. Researchers from GSK, Johns Hopkins Malaria Research Institute, and Fundación MEDINA report that TC1 appears to be environmentally safe.


Currently, researchers are exploring the implementation of this biological control. Potential strategies involve treating mosquito breeding areas with the bacteria, utilizing feed traps, and applying the bacteria to indoor surfaces and bed nets through coating or spraying. Consequently, these practices are already extensively employed in Africa, which saw 95% of the 247 million global malaria cases in 2021.

Preliminary semi-field studies conducted with Institut de Recherche en Sciences de la Santé in Burkina Faso have contributed data to this research. The next step would involve larger field studies. It is worth noting that in 2021, GSK developed the first vaccine for the mosquito-borne disease. This came after investing over three decades of work and approximately $1 billion.

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