Fungi take the fight against malaria to mosquitoes
Bed nets. Insecticides. Sterile and genetically modified insects. Now scientists are adding a genetically engineered toxic fungus to the arsenal of weapons to wipe out mosquitoes that carry the malaria parasite.
Although insecticides and insecticide-laced bed nets, by far the two most commonly employed strategies, have effectively lowered the numbers of infections and deaths, the global malaria burden has not declined in the past few years. In 2017, 219-million people were infected with malaria and an estimated 435,000 died. That is because mosquitoes are evolving resistance to insecticides.
The rapid evolution of resistance is a common and recurrent theme in our arms races against malaria transmitting mosquitoes, as well as against pests and pathogens in general.
Over time, organisms mutate and evolve resistance to any new drug that is used to kill them. No wonder humans always end up on the losing side; that’s why a new weapon is needed. And the latest one is a killer fungus.