Anti-malarial breakthrough likely

Scientists say they have figured out how malarial mosquitoes are drawn to the smell of human sweat, a potential breakthrough in the fight against a disease that claims a million lives a year.

    The discovery is a major breakthrough in the fight against malaria

    The molecular mechanism lies in the nerve cells of the female Anopheles mosquito that help the insect to detect a human victim from miles away, the researchers report in Thursday's issue of Nature, the weekly British science journal. 

    An oderant in sweat called 4-methylphenol activates olfactory cells through a lock, or receptor, on those cells that is termed AgOr1. Once triggered, those cells then alert the mosquito to a potential meal.

    Mosquito repellants

    The discovery has big potential, for it opens the way to a new generation of mosquito repellants that neutralise 4-methylphenol.

    Alternatively, 4-methylphenol could be used to bait traps to lure mosquitoes to their death. 

    Only female mosquitoes carry AgOr1 - and female mosquitoes are the biggest carrier of the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum. It

    is passed on to humans when the mosquito takes a blood meal. 

    In the bloodstream it proliferates like wildfire and is passed on to other mosquitoes who feed on the same host, thus perpetuating the cycle.

    The research was led by John Carlson of Yale University's Department of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology.

    SOURCE: AFP


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    Lost childhoods: Nigeria's fear of 'witchcraft' ruins young lives

    Lost childhoods: Nigeria's fear of 'witchcraft' ruins young lives

    Many Pentecostal churches in the Niger Delta offer to deliver people from witchcraft and possession - albeit for a fee.

    The priceless racism of the Duke of Edinburgh

    The priceless racism of the Duke of Edinburgh

    Prince Philip has done the world an extraordinary service by exposing the racist hypocrisy of "Western civilisation".

    China will determine the future of Venezuela

    China will determine the future of Venezuela

    There are a number of reasons why Beijing continues to back Maduro's government despite suffering financial losses.