How mosquitoes fight malaria

Johns Hopkins Malaria Research Institute [creativecommons license] via Wikimedia Commons

Malaria infects as many half a billion people every year and kills between 1 and 3 million people annually, many of them children living in sub-Saharan Africa. It is caused by Plasmodium spp. protozoans transmitted between humans and mosquitoes via the blood. When a mosquito consumes infected human blood, its immune system attacks Plasmodium and kills roughly 80–90% of the parasites, but the surviving parasites multiply and are then transmitted to other humans by mosquito bites, spreading the disease. A recent study has elucidated the mechanism by which the mosquito’s immune system responds to Plasmodium. The results raise the possibility that we could learn to enhance this immune response, enabling mosquitoes to eliminate Plasmodium more effectively and minimizing malaria transmission from mosquitoes to humans.

Lab Anim. (NY) 38, 104 (2009).
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