Malaria takes a child’s life every minute. According to the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, malaria claims nearly 660,000 lives per year, 90 per cent of them in Africa - and most of them children.
Scientists have now found a way to control the disease. Researchers feel that blocking the egg development in malaria causing mosquito can help reduce the transmission of the deadly disease.
While having sex, the male mosquito hormone turns on a switch in the female that triggers egg development. It is believed that blocking the activation of this switch can impair the reproducing ability of Anopheles gambiae. This in turn can enable the strategy makers to plan for efficient malaria control.
"These findings represent a significant step forward in our understanding of how these devastating malaria vectors reproduce," said Flaminia Catteruccia, associate professor of immunology and infectious diseases at Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) and University of Perugia (UNIPG).
The researchers found that egg development depends on a switch - the MISO protein in the female that is turned on by a male hormone delivered during sex. Male-transferred 20E essentially acts as a "mating signal" for the female to produce more eggs.
"How males contributed to egg development had been previously unknown; with the identification of the molecular players of this male female interaction we can now find ways to switch off the signal and prevent females from reproducing," said Catteruccia.
The study was published in the journal PLoS Biology.
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