Bacteria could be key to preventing malaria transmission

Scientists are working to develop malaria resistance in mosquitoes, which could prevent transmission of the disease to humans

Research carried out at Michigan State University (MSU) shows that introducing a bacteria known as Wolbachia to mosquitoes can act as a vaccine, protecting the insects from malaria parasites.

Malaria affected 219 million people in 2010, according to the World Health Organisation. Some 90% of all malaria deaths occur in Africa.

Researchers say the Wolbachia bacteria can be spread by the insects through entire mosquito populations.

“We developed the mosquito line carrying a stable Wolbachia infection,” Zhiyong Xi, MSU assistant professor of microbiology and molecular genetics, said. “We then seeded them into uninfected populations and repeatedly produced a population of predominantly Wolbachia-infected mosquitoes.”

The current research findings originated out of Xi’s work using Wolbachia to halt Dengue fever.