PROLOGUE: While the world is mesmerized by the so-called Corona-Pandemic, two really serious killer-diseases soar: Tuberculosis and Malaria. Around 435,000 people - mostly children - die from Malaria each year. Malaria killed around 445,000 people around the world in 2016. While the in Rwanda found resistance of the Malaria-causing plasmodia falciparum in mosquitoes to synthetic Artemesinin as cure is worrisome, the good news is that whole-plant, natural Artemesin still works. However, if the Kenyan research into a naturally occurring fungus that prevents the Anopheles mosquito from getting infected by the plasmodia in the first place and therefore the mosquito bite could no longer cause Malaria in humans, it would be a dramatic game changer, that also would make all the other, often highly dangerous experiments - like genetically engineered mosquitoes, genetically engineered fungi or vaccines against Malaria etc. - absolutely obsolete and the world a much safer place. STOP ANY RELEASE OF GM MOSQUITOES INTO THE WILD - NOW!

Dangerous genetic engineering NO LONGER NECESSARY, if Kenyan natural anti-plasmodium fungus succeeds.

Malaria in Africa: Parasite 'resistant to artemisinin'

MosquitoesBy BBC - 06. August 2020

A drug-resistant strain of the parasite that causes malaria has been identified by scientists in Rwanda.

The study, published in Nature, found the parasites were able to resist treatment by artemisinin - a frontline drug in the fight against the disease.

This is the first time scientists have observed the resistance to the drug artemisinin in Africa.

The researchers warns that this "would pose a major public health threat" in the continent.

Scientists from the Institut Pasteur, in collaboration with the National Malaria Control Program in Rwanda (Rwanda Biomedical Center), the World Health Organization (WHO), Cochin Hospital and Columbia University (New York, USA) analysed blood samples from patients in Rwanda.

They found one particular mutation of the parasite, resistant to artemisinin, in 19 of 257 - or 7.4% - of patients at one of the health centres they monitored.

Evolution of parasites

In the journal article the scientists warned that malaria parasites that developed a resistance to previous drugs are "suspected to have contributed to millions of additional malaria deaths in young African children in the 1980s".

When the first malaria drug, chloroquine, was developed, researchers thought that the disease would be eradicated within years.

But since the 1950s the parasites have evolved to develop resistance to successive drugs.

This is a deeply worrying and highly significant moment. Today marks a setback in the fight against the malaria.

Resistance to artemisinin is not new as it has been in parts of South East Asia for more than a decade.

In some regions there, 80% of patients are now infected with malaria parasites that resist treatment.

But Africa has always been the biggest concern - it is where more than nine in 10 cases of the disease are.

It appears as though the resistance evolved in malaria parasites in Africa rather than spreading from South East Asia to the continent.

The result, however, is the same - malaria is getting harder to treat.

Malaria infection is now commonly treated with a combination of two drugs - artemisinin and piperaquine.

But then malaria parasites started developing a resistance to artemisinin as well - this was first recorded in 2008 in South East Asia.

At the time scientists they feared that resistance to artemisinin could also occur in Africa and have devastating consequences

The research indicates that these fears may have been realised.

In 2018, African countries accounted for over 90% of the more than 400,000 deaths from malaria recorded.

Presentational grey line

Professor Lang Linfu, who was one of the scientists involved in the development of artemisinin

Professor Lang Linfu

Author:

Analysis box by James Gallagher, health and science correspondent

Title-picture: The malaria parasite is spread by the bite of infected mosquitoes - Image copyright GETTY IMAGES

Reference: Emergence and clonal expansion of in vitro artemisinin-resistant Plasmodium falciparum kelch 13 R561H mutant parasites in Rwanda

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Malaria 'completely stopped' by microbe

By James Gallagher - 04. May 2020

Mosquito
Malaria is spread by the bite of infected mosquitoes - Image copyright GETTY IMAGES

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.

What is this microbe?

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.

How big a discovery is it?

"The data we have so far suggest it is 100% blockage, it's a very severe blockage of malaria," Dr Jeremy Herren, from the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (icipe) in Kenya told the BBC.

He added: "It will come as a quite a surprise. I think people will find that a real big breakthrough."

More than 400,000 people are killed by malaria each year, most of them children under the age of five.

While huge progress has been made through the use of bed nets and spraying homes with insecticide, this has stalled in recent years. It is widely agreed new tools are needed to tackle malaria.

Sleeping under a bed netBed nets have helped cut the number of people infected with malaria around the world - Image copyright GETTY IMAGES

How does the microbe stop malaria?

The fine details still need to be worked out.

But Microsporidia MB could be priming the mosquito's immune system, so it is more able to fight off infections.

Or the presence of the microbe in the insect could be having a profound effect on the mosquito's metabolism, making it inhospitable for the malaria parasite.

Microsporidia MB infections appear to be life-long. If anything, the experiments show they become more intense, so the malaria-blocking effect would be long-lasting.

When can this be used against malaria?

At the very least, 40% of mosquitoes in a region need to be infected with Microsporidia in order to make a significant dent in malaria.

The microbe can be passed between adult mosquitoes and is also passed from the female to her offspring.

So, the researchers are investigating two main strategies for increasing the number of infected mosquitoes.

  • Microsporidia form spores which could be released en masse to infect mosquitoes
  • Male mosquitoes (which don't bite) could be infected in the lab and released into the wild to infect the females when they have sex

"It's a new discovery. We are very excited by its potential for malaria control. It has enormous potential," Prof Steven Sinkins, from the MRC-University of Glasgow Centre for Virus Research, told the BBC.

This concept of disease control using microbes is not unprecedented. A type of bacteria called Wolbachia has been shown to make it harder for mosquitoes to spread dengue fever in real-world trials.

What happens next?

The scientists need to understand how the microbe spreads, so they plan to perform more tests in Kenya.

However, these approaches are relatively uncontroversial as the species is already found in wild mosquitoes and is not introducing something new.

It also would not kill the mosquitoes, so would not have an impact on ecosystems that are dependent on them as food. This is part of other strategies like a killer fungus that can almost completely collapse mosquito populations in weeks.

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Map showing which malaria vectors populate various parts of the world

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Defeat malaria in a generation - here's how

By James Gallagher - 09. September 2019

Mosquito feedingAnopheles mosquito - Image copyright GETTY IMAGES

The world could be free of malaria - one of the oldest and deadliest diseases to affect humanity - within a generation, a major report says.

Each year there are still more than 200 million cases of the disease, which mostly kills young children.

The report says eradicating malaria is no longer a distant dream, but wiping out the parasite will probably need an extra $2bn (£1.6bn) of annual funding.

Experts say eradication is a "goal of epic proportions".

What is malaria?

Malaria is a disease caused by Plasmodium parasites.

These are spread from person to person by the bite of female mosquitoes in search of a blood meal.

Once infected, people become very sick with a severe fever and shaking chills.

Mosquitoes
The malaria parasites are spread by mosquiotes - Image copyright GETTY IMAGES

The parasites infect cells in the liver and red blood cells, and other symptoms include anaemia.

Eventually the disease takes a toll on the whole body, including the brain, and can be fatal.

Around 435,000 people - mostly children - die from malaria each year.

How is it going so far?

The world has already made huge progress against malaria.

Since 2000:

  • the number of countries with malaria has fallen from 106 to 86
  • cases have fallen by 36%
  • the death rate has fallen by 60%

This is largely down to widespread access to ways of preventing mosquito bites, such as bed nets treated with insecticide, and better drugs for treating people who are infected.

Mosquito netting
Sleeping under insecticide-treated bed nets prevents mosquitoes biting at night - Image copyright GETTY IMAGES

"Despite unprecedented progress, malaria continues to strip communities around the world of promise and economic potential," said Dr Winnie Mpanju-Shumbusho, one of the report authors.

"This is particularly true in Africa, where just five countries account for nearly half of the global burden."

Why is this report important?

Eradicating malaria - effectively wiping it off the face of the planet - would be a monumental achievement.

The report was commissioned by the World Health Organization three years ago to assess how feasible it would be, and how much it would cost.

Forty-one of the world's leading malaria experts - ranging from scientists to economists - have concluded that it can be done by 2050.

Their report, published in the Lancet, is being described as "the first of its kind".

"For too long, malaria eradication has been a distant dream, but now we have evidence that malaria can and should be eradicated by 2050," said Sir Richard Feachem, one of the report authors.

"This report shows that eradication is possible within a generation."

However, he warned it would take "bold action" in order to achieve the goal.

So what will it take?

The report estimates that based on current trends, the world will be "largely free of malaria" by 2050.

But there will still be a stubborn belt of malaria across Africa, stretching from Senegal in the north-west to Mozambique in the south-east.

To reach eradication by 2050 will require current technologies to be used more effectively, and the development of new ways of tackling the disease, the report says.

This could include the "game-changing potential" of gene-drive technologies.

Unlike the normal rules of genetic inheritance, gene-drives force a gene (a piece of DNA) to spread through the population.

It could in theory make mosquitoes infertile and cause their populations to collapse, or make them resistant to the parasite.

King Mswati III
King Mswati III of Eswatini - Image copyright GETTY IMAGES

King Mswati III of Eswatini (formerly Swaziland) and chair of the African Leaders Malaria Alliance said: "Malaria eradication within a generation is ambitious, achievable and necessary.

"The struggle has been constant to keep up with the malaria mosquito and the parasite, both of which are evolving to evade the effect of malaria interventions.

"We must make sure that innovation is prioritised."

How much is this all going to cost?

The report estimates around $4.3bn (£3.5bn) is spent on malaria every year at the moment.

But it would need a further $2bn a year in order to rid the world of malaria by 2050.

The authors say there is also a cost of business as usual, in terms of lives lost and the constant struggle against the malaria parasite and the mosquitoes evolving resistance to drugs and insecticides.

The report concludes that getting an extra $2bn a year will be "challenging" but the social and economic benefits of eradicating malaria would "greatly exceed the costs".

Malaria vaccine
The malaria vaccine, which is starting to be rolled out in large trials, should help save lives -  Image copyright GETTY IMAGES

Will malaria be eradicated by 2050?

Eradicating a disease is a challenge on a global scale (literally).

It has happened only once before for an infection in people - smallpox was declared eradicated in 1980.

It required a huge effort and a highly effective vaccine to get the job done.

But there is a reason smallpox is the only one, and the history of poliovirus shows how challenging eradication can be.

In the wake of the success with smallpox, there was widespread hope polio would be rapidly consigned to history too, and a target of eradication by the year 2000 was set.

Two decades after that initial target and cases have been cut by 99%. However, the last 1% has proved to be incredibly difficult.

Nigeria, and as a result the whole of Africa, is on the cusp of eliminating polio, but getting the vaccine to every child in the two remaining endemic countries (Pakistan and Afghanistan) is still proving difficult.

What has the reaction been?

"Eradicating malaria has been one of the ultimate public health goals for a century, it is also proving to be one the greatest challenges," said Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus, the director general of the World Health Organization.

"But we will not achieve eradication within this timeframe with the currently available tools and approaches - most of which were developed in the past century or even earlier."

Dr Fred Binka, from the University of Health and Allied Sciences in Ghana, said: "Malaria eradication is a goal of epic proportions.

"It will require ambition, commitment and partnership like never before, but we know that its return is worth the investment, not only by saving lives in perpetuity, but also improving human welfare, strengthening economies and contributing to a healthier, safer and more equitable world."

Author:

James Gallagher - Health and science correspondent, BBC News

Follow James on Twitter.

Female Anopheles gambiae Giles taking a blood meal.Female Anopheles gambiae taking a blood meal. Photograph by Jim Gathany, CDC. 

Dangerous genetic engineering NO LONGER NECESSARY, if Kenyan natural anti-plasmodium fungus succeeds:

If scientists have instructions for making the funnel-web spider toxin added to the fungus's genetic code, they also can add other toxins to e.g. bacteria, fungi or virus-like subjects that affect humans.

Why the world needs a genetically engineered fungus, if there is a natural one???

Again children of poor famiies as the guniea pigs of the Vaccine Mafia:

Malaria vaccine rolled out for tens of thousands of children

STOP these very dangerous experiments:

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Malaria mosquito, Anopheles gambiae sensu stricto

The Latin name Anopheles originates from Ancient Greek and means ‘useless’. The genus was first described in 1818 and over 400 species are known to date worldwide of which around 30 are malaria vectors of major importance. Anopheles mosquitoes are among the deadliest animals in the world killing over 430,000 people a year due to their efficiency in transmitting the malaria parasite. Anopheles gambiae is one of the best-known species, because of its predominant role in the transmission of the most dangerous parasite species to humans – Plasmodium falciparumAnopheles gambiae and other major vectors in sub-Saharan Africa are currently controlled through high coverage of long-lasting insecticidal nets and indoor residual insecticide spraying exploiting the vectors’ habit to preferentially bite humans inside their houses at night. However, intense insecticide use indoors has led to spiralling physiological insecticide resistance in the vectors and behavioural adaptations, i.e. increased early and outdoor biting. icipe is spear-heading research into innovative vector control tools that can complement current interventions by studying the behavioural and chemical ecology of malaria vectors for targeting all physiological stages with an emphasis on novel tools for outdoor control.

Tomato leafminer, Tuta absoluta.
Malaria mosquito: Anopheles gambiae sensu stricto

The year 2020 marks the 50th anniversary of the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (icipe). 

icipe was established in 1970 by the late internationally renowned Kenyan scientist, Prof. Thomas Risley Odhiambo, at a time when the very notion that insect science – or indeed, the then woefully small indigenous scientific communities – could contribute to a prosperous future for Africa must have seemed audacious to say the least.

icipe has progressed and flourished just as envisioned. Today, the Centre stands as a source of pride for Kenya and for Africa, with well-deserved regional and international acclaim as the only institution on the continent working primarily on insects and other arthropods, and a hub of scientific excellence and capacity building. 

This esteem has been achieved through unwavering commitment to the Centre’s original vision of elevating the lives of communities across Africa, by providing solutions that are environmentally safe, pre-empt the use of harmful chemicals, are affordable, accessible and easy-to-use, for the management of pests of crops, and disease transmitting insects. Moreover, our science-led strategies are helping communities, especially those in marginalised areas, to exploit beneficial insects, like bees and silkworms, while protecting the environment. We have also pioneered research in the exciting area of insects as alternative sources of food for people and feed for livestock, and other uses like organic waste conversion. Our holistic approach contributes to improving household and national incomes, employment and nutritional security of many people in Africa, transforming livelihoods in an inclusive manner, especially for women and the youth.  

Our golden jubilee is embodied in the slogan: ‘Insects for Life’ – a dual expression of the interlinkage between icipe 4H research approach that encompasses: Human, Animal, Plant and Environment Health; and the unwavering commitment of the Centre to its vision and mission. In tandem, we are running an Insect of the Month series that provides an illustration of intricate interlinkage between insects and livelihoods, in Africa and beyond.

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MALARIA CURE COVERED UP - Sacha Stone

17 May 2020

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