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Mosquito genes linked to insecticide resistance may be new target in fight against malaria
Date:2/4/2009

Malaria remains one of the most serious diseases worldwide, claiming the lives of more than one million people per year in tropical and sub-tropical regions, the majority of whom are children under five years of age. Efforts to eliminate this mosquito-borne illness rely heavily on prevention measures, but there are growing concerns about resistance to insecticides. In a study published online today in Genome Research (www.genome.org), researchers have identified specific mosquito genes associated with resistance to a common class of insecticide, a significant step toward the execution of more effective malaria control strategies.

Eradication of mosquitoes that carry the malarial parasite has relied heavily on the use of insecticides for spraying inside of homes and treatment of mosquito netting. There are very few insecticides that are both effective and low-cost, while at the same time safe for humans. Developing new insecticides will be time consuming and expensive, therefore understanding the genetic and biological basis of resistance to insecticides currently in use will be critical for more effective prevention measures in the field.

In this study, an international team of scientists led by Dr. Charles Wondji of the Liverpool School of Tropical Medical has identified the genetic basis of resistance to common pyrethroid insecticides in the mosquito Anopheles funestus, one of the major malarial vectors in Africa. The group studied strains of An. funestus that are both susceptible and resistant to pyrethroids, and narrowed down the potential genetic culprits to members of a family of genes coding for enzymes known as cytochrome P450s. The P450s are common to all classes of organisms, and are considered a first line of defense against toxins.

The researchers found two cytochrome P450 genes in An. funestus that are associated with pyrethroid resistance. Dr. Hila
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Contact: Peggy Calicchia
calicchi@cshl.edu
516-422-4012
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
Source:Eurekalert

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