Scientists have developed a genetically modified mosquito which they claim can work as a natural ‘flying vaccinator’ to spread vaccine against malaria instead of the disease.
A research, led by Jichi Medical University in Japan, has revealed that mosquito genetic engineering may turn the blood-sucking ‘transmitter’ into a ‘flying vaccinator’ thereby providing a new strategy for biological control over malaria.
The research targets the saliva gland of the Anopheles stephensi mosquitoes, the main vectors of human malaria.
“Blood-sucking arthropods including mosquitoes, sand flies and ticks transmit numerous infectious agents during blood feeding. This includes malaria, which kills between 1-2 million people, mostly African children, a year.
“The lack of an effective vaccine means control of the carrier has become a crucial objective to combating the disease,” lead scientist Prof Shigeto Yoshida said.
For the past decade, it has been theorised that genetic engineering of the mosquito could create a ‘flying vaccinator’, raising hopes for their use as a new strategy for malaria control. However so far research has been limited to a study of the insect’s gut.