Scientists have discovered a microbe that completely protects mosquitoes from being infected with malaria. The team in Kenya and the UK say the finding has “enormous potential” to control the disease. Malaria is spread by the bite of infected mosquitoes, so protecting them could in turn protect people. The researchers are now investigating whether they can release infected mosquitoes into the wild, or use spores to suppress the disease. The malaria-blocking bug, Microsporidia MB, was discovered by studying mosquitoes on the shores of Lake Victoria in Kenya. It lives in the gut and genitals of the insects. The researchers could not find a single mosquito carrying the Microsporidia that was harbouring the malaria parasite. And lab experiments, published in Nature Communications, confirmed the microbe gave the mosquitoes protection. Microsporidias are fungi, or at least closely related to them, and most are parasites. However, this new species may be beneficial to the mosquito and was naturally found in around 5% of the insects studied.
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