Researchers to make mosquitoes "flying vaccinators"

21:26, March 25, 2010      

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A new study conducted by Japanese researchers have shown promise for turning the blood-sucking mosquitoes into "flying vaccinators" by modifying the insects' genes, AFP reported Thursday.

Scientists at Jichi Medical University in Tokyo said that one day the transgenic mosquitoes will act as vaccine deliverers to inoculate millions for free.

In a study the researchers genetically modified a mosquito species and made the mosquito's saliva contain a protein that functions as a vaccine against leishmaniasis, a fatal disease that triggers terrible skin sores.

The study also showed that mice bitten by the transgenic mosquito could build up immunity against the disease.

"You would be vaccinated without even noticing," said Shigeto Yoshida, the associate professor who has led the research, "you wouldn't need any drug and you wouldn't need to show up at a designated place for mass vaccinations."

Repeat bites would strengthen the immunity, Yoshida added.

According to the researchers, the study could similarly be used to help combat malaria, perhaps in a decade.

But there remain some problems for this study, for example, no effective vaccine against malaria exists because malaria's antigen changes frequently, and the vaccinator mosquito may still pick up and spread malaria.

Source: Xinhua/Agencies

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