Coat mosquito nets with antimalarial drugs to stem rising insecticide … – The Telegraph

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Coating mosquito nets with antimalarial medication as well as insecticides could offer a much needed solution to overcome growing resistance, scientists have found.
Since 2000, mosquito controls have prevented roughly 663 million malaria cases, with 68 per cent of these infections averted due to bed nets. 
But the battle against the disease, which still kills around 435,000 people a year, is stalling. In 2017, the number of reported cases rose by 3 million to a total of 219 million globally, according to the World Health Organization
And with the mosquitoes becoming increasingly resistant to the pyrethroid drugs used to coat bed nets, experts are searching for alternative methods to stem the spread of malaria
One solution could be to impregnate bed nets with antimalarial drugs, which would kill the malaria parasite inside the mosquito before it can be transmitted to humans, according to research published in Nature on Wednesday.  
“What I think is really exciting about our research is that targeting the malaria parasite directly within the mosquito is a potent method for blocking malaria transmission in it’s own right,” said Douglas Paton, research fellow at Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health and lead author of the study.
“But this approach could also enhance and extend the effective lifespan of current and future insecticides, through the use of combination nets with both insecticidal and antimalarial [coatings].”  
In the lab-based study, scientists found that the mosquitoes could absorb the antimalarial drugs through their legs, in much the same way as they absorb insecticides. 
After six minutes of exposure to a low dose of the antimalarial, the drug had killed the malaria parasite in all of the mosquitoes in the trial, with no negative side effects for the insects themselves. 
“The power of this strategy, compared to something like gene drive, is simplicity,” said Flaminia Catteruccia, professor of immunology and infectious diseases at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. “It relies on pipelines that already exist so this wouldn’t add any extra cost.
"Also this is a very safe strategy which targets the parasite not the mosquito, so there would be a limited effect on humans and the whole ecosystem. Whereas with gene drive, once it is released we might never be able to control or contain the consequences.” 
Prof Catteruccia added that while further testing was required to identify the most effective drug compound – which would likely be different to those used to treat humans – bednets coated with antimalarial medication as well as insecticides could be a reality within the next three to five years.
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