Genetically engineered bacteria to combat malaria parasite
In a recent development researchers have developed a new bacterium that is able to kill malarial parasite. Recently the researchers have genetically modified a bacterium commonly found in the mosquito's midgut and found that the parasite which is responsible for causing malaria in people does not survive in mosquitoes carrying the modified bacterium.
The bacterium, Pantoea agglomerans, was modified to secrete proteins toxic to the malaria parasite, but the toxins do not harm the mosquito or humans.
As per the findings of the study, the modified bacteria were 98 percent effective in reducing the malaria parasite burden in mosquitoes.
"In the past, we worked to genetically modify the mosquito to resist malaria, but genetic modification of bacteria is a simpler approach," Marcelo Jacobs-Lorena, PhD, senior author of the study and a professor with Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health has been quoted as saying.
"The ultimate goal is to completely prevent the mosquito from spreading the malaria parasite to people," Jacobs-Lorena added.
Jacobs-Lorena and his team of researchers found that that the modified P. agglomerans strains inhibited development of the deadliest human malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum and rodent malaria parasite Plasmodium berghei by up to 98 percent within the mosquito.
The proportion of mosquitoes carrying parasites (prevalence) reduced by up to 84 percent.
"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," Jacobs-Lorena has been quoted as saying.
Every year more than 800,000 people get killed by malaria. Majority of them are children.
PNAS has published this study recently.
--with inputs from ANI
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