News & Events
Genetically modified fungus to cope with malaria
- June 6, 2019
- Posted by: Wiley M. Wagner
- Category: Science
Today, gene modification specialists from the University of Maryland in the United States demonstrated the first results of a test of one of their most long-lasting and interesting projects – a genetically modified fungus that aims to eradicate the malaria virus in African regions suffering from it. In particular, the experts have already conducted the first field tests outside the laboratories in a village in Burkina Faso in West Africa and found that their modified fungus really copes with the elimination of the malarial virus, effectively penetrating into the mosquitoes peddlers and at the same time ignoring all other types of insects and living creatures, which is important.
It is worth noting that we are talking about a fungus called Metarhizium pingshaensei, which is a natural antibiotic against the malaria virus in its natural habitat – however, in its altered genetic form, it shows even higher toxicity to malaria mosquitoes, with a significantly smaller use of the specific volume of the fungus. Experts point out that the poisons of the North African scorpion and the Australian blue spotted spider were also used in the gene modification – and the ability not to hurt other insects by their action, scientists are also obliged to change some genetic markers and characteristics that affect mosquito vectors of malaria.
According to preliminary results, during the first two weeks, with the help of this fungus, it was possible to reduce the spread of malaria by about 45%, which is a really big and excellent indicator, especially considering the rapid development of malaria.
Thus, inspired by the first success, experts will probably want to try out some other options and configurations of this fungus against malaria – it is assumed that very soon experts will begin the second phase of the genetic modification of the fungus in order to make it even more concentrated, which will allow for a good saving of the initial volume used fungal raw materials. In addition, they talk about the desire to reduce its value.