Posts Tagged ‘Malaria’

Malaria Vaccine

October 18, 2011

This is simply wonderful news from Reuters. The world’s first vaccine against malaria has been proven to be effective in clinical trials.

An experimental vaccine from GlaxoSmithKline halved the risk of African children getting malaria in a major clinical trial, making it likely to become the world’s first shot against the deadly disease.

Final-stage trial data released on Tuesday showed it gave protection against clinical and severe malaria in five- to 17-month-olds in Africa, where the mosquito-borne disease kills hundreds of thousands of children a year.

“These data bring us to the cusp of having the world’s first malaria vaccine,” said Andrew Witty, chief executive of the British drugmaker that developed the vaccine along with the nonprofit PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative (MVI).

While hailing an unprecedented achievement, Witty, malaria scientists and global health experts stressed that the vaccine, known as RTS,S or Mosquirix, was no quick fix for eradicating malaria. The new shot is less effective against the disease than other vaccines are against common infections such as polio and measles.

“We would have wished that we could wipe it out, but I think this is going to contribute to the control of malaria rather than wiping it out,” Tsiri Agbenyega, a principal investigator in the RTS,S trials in Ghana, told Reuters at a Seattle, Washington, conference about the disease.

Malaria is endemic in around 100 countries worldwide and killed some 781,000 people in 2009, according to the World Health Organization.

Control measures such as insecticide-treated bednets, indoor spraying and use of combination anti-malaria drugs have helped significantly cut the numbers of malaria cases and deaths in recent years, but experts have said that an effective vaccine is vital to complete the fight against the disease.

Allowing DDT to be used in Africa would also save a lot of lives. At any rate let’s hope that GlaxoSmithKline can get this vaccine to where it is needed most as fast as possible.

And, thanks to Instapundit for picking up this story.

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Human Swallows Pill. Mosquito Bites Human. Mosquito Dies.

July 12, 2011
None - This image is in the public domain and ...

Image via Wikipedia

From the New York Times. I like this.

A cheap deworming pill used in Africa for 25 years against river blindness was recently shown to have a power that scientists had long suspected but never before demonstrated in the field: When mosquitoes bite people who have recently swallowed the drug — called ivermectin or Mectizan — they die.

Where can I get some of this? I would love to watch mosquitoes die. It turns out, though, there are a couple of drawbacks.

Other scientists caution that while the mosquito-poisoning trick is pretty nifty, it is not very practical: For it to work effectively, nearly everyone in a mosquito-infested area must take the pills simultaneously.

Getting thousands of villagers to do that even in annual deworming campaigns is a logistical nightmare, scientists said. The mosquito-killing effect appears to fade out within a month, so it would need to be repeated monthly.

Also, in rare cases, the otherwise safe drug can be lethal.

It doesn’t seem to kill the mosquitoes right away. It shortens their life span so that they do not live long enough to acquire the parasites that cause malaria. That’s not as much fun as having mosquitoes bite me and then die, but it could be very useful for controlling malaria. Still this is Africa so distribution is a problem. Not to mention health problems not generally found in the developed world.

We hand it out once a year,” said the parasitologist, Dr. Frank O. Richards Jr. “I’m pushing for twice a year, and people want to kill me. It’s very difficult to imagine a once-a-month program anywhere.”

It might be useful, he suggested, in areas with brief, intense malaria seasons.

Also, when people with lots of worms are treated, they suffer fever and intense itching as the worms die. Though that might be bearable once a year, it discourages people from seeking treatment more frequently. And ivermectin is dangerous for a few people — those infested with large numbers of a relatively rare West African worm, the loa loa. These worms circulate in the blood and lungs and may jam capillaries when they die, potentially causing coma or death. Detecting them means drawing blood and viewing it under a microscope.

Still, it is promising and I hope it works out.

Did I mention that I really hate mosquitoes?

Hat tip to Instapundit.

 

Stinky Feet and Mosquitos

May 30, 2011

From Physorg.com. Here is some news we can use. It seems that mosquitos are not only attracted to humans by the carbon dioxide we exhale, but they are also attracted by certain foot odors so they can attack near the ankles. I’ve always wondered why mosquito bites seemed to be concentrated around my ankles. Remco Suer has been doing some research into this in order to manipulate mosquito behavior, especially the species that carry malaria.

Remco Suer started by experimenting on the African , . He knew that prior research had found that human foot bacteria produce about ten separate odors, some more attractive to mosquitoes than others. Suer, who did the study as part of his doctorate in at Wageningen University in the Netherlands, showed that these foot odors are detected by that control smell, which are present underneath hair-like structures on the mouthparts of the malaria mosquito.

Suer tested their in the labratory by pumping additional CO2 into a container to simulate , then added a high concentration of five different foot odors and found that the mosquitoes were unable to react to the CO2 for several seconds. The sole-ful odors actually stopped mosquitoes from sensing CO2 from breathing — which could be a reason why malarial mosquitoes divert when honing in on a person and move instead to the feet at close ranges.

But Suer pointed out that this doesn’t mean people with especially funky feet are more likely to get nibbled on.

“It is not the amount of odors produced, but which particular odors and ratio between them that makes a difference. Finding these odors and their respective ratio’s brings us one step closer to manipulating the mosquito’s behavior.”

They hope to be able to lure mosquitos away using traps with the appropriate odors. Here’s one especially promising line of research;

Kline’s research has taken him to do similar experiments with dirty socks — including a pair he wore for 12 hours per day, for three days in a row.

“We actually got the female mosquitoes to respond to the socks,” he said.

Using the olfactory prowess of the malaria-bearing mosquito against it is a useful trick.

Maybe gym-shoe odors could possibly do the trick.

I wouldn’t mind smelling like an old gym shoe if it kept the blood suckers away.


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