Thursday, July 07, 2011

New Malaria Vaccine!

Ivermectin, a cheap drug usually used in Africa against roundworms that cause river blindness, has been shown to kill malaria mosquitos. This breakthrough comes from scientist teams in Senegal and Colorado State University and could prove to be a useful weapon against the disease that kills around 800,000 people a year.

Brian Foy, a vector biologist at Colorado State University says that, "this could be an important tool that would also contribute to the fight against other neglected diseases. It is clearly a multi-purpose drug."

Foy and his colleagues went to several Senegalese villages and collected mosquitoes from houses before and after they provided the population with the drug for river blindness. They found that the proportion of mosquitoes carrying the malaria parasite dropped by 79% in the two weeks after the drug was distributed. They also found that the drug being in the bloodstream killed the mosquitoes.

The drug has been around for more than 30 years and is off-patent and cheap. It works by paralyzing insect and nematode muscles, making it difficult for them to move and fed.

The drug could prove to be an excellent new tool in the fight against malaria!

-Gabrielle Gurian