Mosquito 'vaccinates as it bites'
Published 20/03/2010 | 07:51
A genetically engineered mosquito that vaccinates as it bites has been developed by scientists.
Experts believe "flying vaccinators" could be a radical new way of tackling malaria.
However, a strategy that allows the uncontrolled mass delivery of vaccines via biting insects could raise ethical objections.
Each year malaria claims between one and two million lives around the world, mostly of African children.
The disease is caused by a single-celled parasite spread by the Anopheles mosquito.
Scientists have looked at a number of ways of genetically modifying the insect to stop it transmitting the organism.
They include making male mosquitoes infertile, and creating a malaria-free insect that will out-survive the carriers.
The new approach, the most radical yet, targets the salivary gland of the Anopheles mosquito.
Scientists in Japan have engineered an insect producing a natural vaccine protein in its saliva which is injected into the bloodstream when it bites.
The research is reported in the journal Insect Molecular Biology.