A Genetically Engineered Fungus Could Help to Stop Malaria from Spreading

A Genetically Engineered Fungus Could Help to Stop Malaria from Spreading


A fungus, genetically improved to create spider toxin, can swiftly kill a large number of malaria-spreading mosquitos. According to a new study, published on Friday in the journal Science, a group of scientists from the University of Maryland and Burkina Faso have made the discovery. The team has represented its first trial outside the laboratory of a transgenic approach to addressing malaria. According to the study, a naturally developing fungus, modified to deploy a poison to mosquitoes harmlessly removes mosquito groups. The analysis, which happened in Burkina Faso, revealed mosquito populations dropped by 99% within a one-and-a-half month. Meanwhile, scientists note they do not intend to defunct the insects, but they aim to curb the spread of malaria.

The team of scientists first detected the fungus – Metarhizium pingshaense. As per the researchers, the fungus naturally repels and infects the female mosquito, which spread the disease. According to the WHO, around 219 million people across the world suffer from malaria. Besides, the fatal disease kills more than 4,00,000 people per year. Thus the scientists expect to find a new way to fight against malaria. Therefore they have utilised a gene of the spider to design a fungus genetically. Raymond St. Leger, a professor at the University of Maryland, says they are very excited. He added the results are incredibly amazing, and it could save the lives of many people.

The study reveals the fungus is a naturally occurring pathogen that plagues insects in the wild. As a result, the mosquitoes die slowly. Scientists call it Hybrid, which is a so-called insecticide. They have extracted it from the funnel-web spider in Australia. Even the Environmental Protection Agency has approved the pesticide. Thus Hybrid can be directly used on crops to limit farming insect pests. Prof Raymond described a spider uses its teeth to pierce the skin of insects and injects a toxin. The scenario is the same in the study scientists have just replaced teeth of fangs of a spider with Metarhizium. Eventually, scientists say new tools are required to combat malaria as mosquitoes are becoming more resistant to insecticides.

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