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Alarming Spread Of Malaria

As soon as the world was starting to believe there was soon to be a cure to the deadly Malaria disease, a new drug resistant parasite has been discovered spreading around the Myanmar and India region. Asian countries should stay on high alert because of the epidemic which broke out over 50 years ago where a similar drug resistant parasite ravaged India and eventually travelled beyond Asia, and claiming millions of lives on its way to extinction.

Professor Mike Turner, the head of infection & immunobiology at the Welcome Trust in the United Kingdom stated, “The new research shows that history is repeating itself with parasites resistant to artemisinin drugs, the mainstay of modern malaria treatment, now widespread in Myanmar.” He also included that thousands are in immediate danger due to the new parasite.

According to Medical News Today, “The team found 39% of samples carried genetic evidence of resistance to artemisinin. They also confirmed resistant parasites were present in samples taken from centers located only 25 km from the Indian border.” Officials are extremely concerned since the proximity the disease is so close to India and the population which could be an epidemic very quickly.

Many doctors and officials are beginning to take precautionary measures as they expect the worst. Even though there is no real cure for this new mosquito, doctors are going to make sure they do all they can do in order to keep the heavily prone areas safe and disease free.

This new outbreak is urging the World Health Organization and The Global Fund to push for a more effective course of action to fight malaria. The bug is expected to be the worst epidemic since the 1960’s. One official claimed, “We need a more vigorous international effort to address this issue in border regions.” These regions are going to face problems for years to come and the best way to solve this problem is to wipe it out completely.

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Cerebral Malaria Treatment Discovered?

Recent studies could have came to discover a cure to Cerebral Malaria according to the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health. The school explained, “They discovered a novel link between food intake during the early stages of infection and the outcome of the disease, identifying two molecular pathways that could serve as new targets for treatment.”

Cerebral Malaria is considered one of the deadliest forms of Malaria which causes seizures, strokes, and death. This form of Malaria affects children generally and attacks their non-fully developed immune systems. The vaccine with use of “leptin—a hormone secreted from fat tissue with roles in suppressing appetite, but also in activating adaptive immune and inflammatory responses—is increased upon infection in a mouse model of cerebral malaria, and turns out to be a major bad actor in promoting neurological symptoms and death.” The researchers explained that using forms of leptin with a decrease in food intake can slow and potentially rid the Cerebral Malaria virus.

The biggest upside for this potential treatment is that is could be tested on humans since rapamycin is approved by the FDA currently according to article, “The researchers also found that leptin acted primarily on cytotoxic T cells by turning on the well-studied mTOR protein, for which pharmacologic inhibitors are readily available. In their animal model, treating mice with the mTOR inhibitor rapamycin protected them against the neurological complications of cerebral malaria. Protection was due in part to a preservation of the blood brain barrier, which prevented the entry of blood cells carrying the parasites into the brain. As rapamycin is already FDA-approved for use in humans, trials in humans for cerebral malaria treatment with this drug may be possible, according to the researchers.”

While this treatment is not expected to be seen on the market any time in the near future, researchers and doctors alike are hoping this could be the break through that begins to fight the Cerebral Malaria virus.

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3D Mosquito Flight Tracking

Recent technology and medical tactics are joining forces in hopes to wipe out the Malaria disease completely. With hundreds of millions going into the fight against the deadly disease, it only makes sense that now technology is playing a major role in the fight. Traps which can detect and track mosquitos flight pattern can help detect which mosquitos are carrying the deadly disease and which are not. Not only do they detect the movements of the mosquitos, they capture them in 3D, which helps determine their height, rapid movement and flight path.

These mosquitos can be detected as hungry or not based on their flight pattern when entering a funnel which detects if the mosquito is flying erratically in search of food, or flying normally. These traps which are set up to analyze the flight direction of the mosquitos use human odor and heat to inspect the bugs pattern.

When these tests are being conducted, in certain scenarios, the mosquito would have wind against it in the trap in order to see the persistence of the deadly mosquito and the lengths it would go in order to get its food. When the mosquito was faced with no wind, no human odor or heat, it seemed to go on its route normally on an upward angle while in flight. Although, when human odor was added, the difference between between the having no odor in the trap and a trap with odor was outstanding. The odor trap had the mosquito going haywire. It flew in an eccentric manner and flew directly towards the odor area of the trap. 

Likewise, when the trap was enclosed with human odor as well as heat, it was obvious the results came out the way they did. The mosquito went bizerk and even with the wind, they trekked their way to the source of the odor and heat. In the diagram on the right, you can see the path of the mosquitos and how they change due to frequency in odor, heat and wind placed in the funnels.

In 2013 alone, mosquitos with the deadly strain have killed over 500,000 humans, generally located in the subsaharien region of Africa. Even though Malaria related deaths are down 47% since 2000, they are still killing half a million people who are not able to get treated. This technology and medicine has donors hopeful that with the help of the world, we can eliminate Malaria for good.

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Genetically Altered Mosquitoes. To Wipe Out Malaria?

In 2002 alone, Malaria is the cause for about 627,000 deaths. A majority of these deaths were African children who did not have adequate medicine and access to medicine. The biggest problem with Malaria in Africa is that mosquitos are reproducing with the same genetic gene which carries the deadly disease.

George Church, professor of genetics at Harvard Medical School has a new ‘cutting-edge’ mosquito research that could eradicate the Malaria carrying mosquito population completely within a few generations. Church has come with the idea to genetically alter the genes of male mosquitos since they are ones who do not feed on human blood, they feed on plant nectar, which in turn means they do not spread or transmit Malaria.

This process would work based on genetically altering only males with these genetically engineered traits, which are engineered to carry a gene which gives their offspring a better chance of being male. Soon after, these altered male mosquitos breed with female mosquitos to pass their genetically engineered trait along to the offspring. The best case scenario of this alterations is to produce mosquito offspring which are male, killing off the female mosquito, Malaria carrying mosquitos. This could take a few generations and according to the journal Nature Communications this could work,Male mosquitoes feed on plant nectar, not human blood, and thus don’t transmit malaria. These mosquitos were shown to be able to interbreed with wild mosquitos (in cages), passing on their genetically engineered traits. Because they produce so few female offspring, whole mosquito populations could simply die off within a few generations.”

Although, this seems like a viable option to wipe out Malaria, it also posses a danger to the environment. The offspring of these genetically male mosquitos will pollinate for food which is also consumed by various other species in the ecosystem. It could harm these other species indirectly. Also, animals use mosquitoes as a food source, and like the animals which pollinate, it would affect them.

Another downfall to genetically altering gene technology is how easily it would be able to access. Getting this into the hands of everyone could pose a threat to any species which are not liked by anyone based on their own personal reasons.

For more information on the topic, please visit: MotherJones on their take on the subject.

Describing Malaria

In a recent article by the online source, WebMd, a general overview of Malaria is discussed and outlined. Malaria, is a serious disease that causes high fevers and chills in people that have been affected. The way people are infected by Malaria is through a bite by an infected mosquito. Malaria is rare in the Unites States but has affected many parts of Africa, Southern Asia, Central America and South America.

The mosquito bite that affects people with the Malaria disease are mosquitoes that have been infected with parasites. However, in very rare cases, people can become infected when they come in contact with infected blood. In women who are pregnant- the fetus could develop the disease from an infected mother. Contrary to what many believe- one cannot get Malaria from purely being in contact with a person that is infected. Most Malaria infections cause patients to have flu like symptoms, such as high fever, chills and muscle pain- but the symptoms tend to come and go in cycles. Some types of the Malaria disease may cause more serious symptoms- it could cause damage to the heart, lungs, kidneys, or brain. These types can be deadly. In order to check for the Malaria disease, your doctor will order a blood test to be done in order to check for the Malaria parasite.

scottfiller_malariaMedicines can usually treat the illness but many Malaria parasites survive because they are in your liver or they are resistant to medications. If you have been in an area where Malaria is present, it is important for you to get medical help right away in case if you were exposed to mosquitoes or are getting symptoms similar to the flu. Again, these include high fever, chills and muscle pain. You might be able to prevent Malaria before by taking medicine before, during and after traveling to an infected area. However, using medication to prevent Malaria doesn’t always work. This is due to some parasites being resistant to the Malaria medication.

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