Scientists map out mosquito immune system to help fight malaria

LONDON (Reuters) - Scientists have created the first full map of mosquito immune cells and found a new type of cell that could have a role in how mosquitos are able to fight off malaria. The findings, published in the journal Science, could help scientists uncover new ways of preventing mosquitos from spreading the malaria parasite to people and break the chain of transmission, the researchers said.

Reuters August 28, 2020 01:10:40 IST
Scientists map out mosquito immune system to help fight malaria

Scientists map out mosquito immune system to help fight malaria

LONDON (Reuters) - Scientists have created the first full map of mosquito immune cells and found a new type of cell that could have a role in how mosquitos are able to fight off malaria.

The findings, published in the journal Science, could help scientists uncover new ways of preventing mosquitos from spreading the malaria parasite to people and break the chain of transmission, the researchers said.

Malaria affects more than 200 million people worldwide and killed an estimated 405,000 people in 2018 - most of them babies and children under five years old. It is caused by Plasmodium parasites, which are spread in the bites of female Anopheles mosquitoes.

"We discovered a rare but important new cell type, which we called a megacyte, which could be involved in immune priming and which appears to switch on further immune responses to the Plasmodium parasite," said Oliver Billker, a molecular infection expert at Sweden's Umeå University, who co-led the work.

The mosquito immune system controls how the insect can transmit parasites or viruses, Billker's team explained in the study, but until now, scientists knew little about the cell types involved.

The team studied both Anopheles gambiae mosquitos, which transmit malaria, and Aedes aegypti mosquitos, which carry viruses that cause other human infectious diseases such as Dengue fever, Chikungunya and Zika.

They analysed more than 8,500 individual immune cells to see exactly which genes were switched on in each cell and to identify molecular markers for each unique cell type.

"Mosquitos appear to have a sweet spot of immunity to parasites like malaria, with enough immunity to the infection that it doesn’t kill the mosquito but not enough to remove the parasite," said Sarah Teichmann, an expert at Britain's Wellcome Sanger Institute who co-led the study.

(Reporting by Kate Kelland; Editing by Alison Williams)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Updated Date:

TAGS:

also read

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources
| Reuters
World

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources | Reuters

By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States

China's Xi says navy should become world class
| Reuters
World

China's Xi says navy should become world class | Reuters

BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country's navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.China's navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should "aim for the top ranks in the world", the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit."Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," the ministry paraphrased Xi as saying.