A team of scientists in Kenya and the United Kingdom have discovered a microbe that prevents mosquitoes from getting malaria, in turn protecting people from getting infected by the deadly disease.
The microbe discovered is a species of Microsporidia, which are closely related to fungi. Microsporidia lives inside insects and this new species, Microsporidia MB, has been found to be beneficial to mosquitoes as it seems to completely block malaria from infecting them.
“It’s a new discovery. We are very excited by its potential for malaria control. It has enormous potential,” says Prof Steven Sinkins from the MRC-University of Glasgow Centre for Virus Research to the BBC.
Scientists are now researching the best method to infect mosquitoes with microsporidia to help prevent them from getting malaria and passing it on to humans. Some wild mosquitoes have already been found to naturally be infected with microsporidia, and the parasite does not kill them; this means ecosystems dependent on the insects as food would not be impacted.