Gut bacterium in mosquitoes could combat malaria, dengue

Like human guts, insect guts are full of microbes, which can dictate an insect's ability to transmit disease.

One of these microbes--a bacterium found in the gut of an Aedes mosquito--may have therapeutic applications for malaria and dengue, two diseases transmitted by these mosquitoes.

In a study published in PLOS Pathogens, Johns Hopkins researchers detail how the isolate Csp_P, a member of the chromobacteria family, can help fight malaria and dengue fever at different levels.

Previously, investigators isolated Csp_P from the gut of Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, which transmit dengue fever. In the new study, the Johns Hopkins team found that Csp_P was able to inhibit both the malaria and dengue pathogens in a test tube and cut the life span of the mosquitoes that transmit both tropical diseases.

After adding Csp_P to sugar water fed to mosquitoes, the bacteria quickly colonized the gut of the two most important mosquito disease vectors, namely Aedes aegypti and the malaria-transmitting Anopheles gambiae. Mosquitoes with Csp_P present in the gut were also less susceptible to both the malaria parasite and dengue virus.

When tested directly against the malaria and dengue pathogens, Csp_P was able to halt the growth of the malaria parasite at various stages during its life cycle and also abolish the infectivity of dengue virus. The researchers think Csp_P does this by producing toxic metabolites, which they believe could potentially be developed into therapeutic drugs for malaria and dengue.

- read the study in PLOS Pathogens

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