is the VOA Special English Development Report.
Scientists continue to seek better
weapons against malaria. Each year the number of cases is in the hundreds of
millions worldwide. Around a million people die, most of them in Africa.
Economic losses from the disease amount to an estimated one percent of the
African economy each year.
George Dimopoulos is an associate
professor at the Johns Hopkins Malaria Research Institute in Baltimore,
DIMOPOULOS: "Forty-two percent of the earth's population live in areas
where malaria transmitting mosquitoes exist. All of these people are [at] risk of
being infected with malaria. The sad thing is that the majority of people that
are killed by malaria are children because their immune system is not strong
enough to ward off this infection."
is caused by a parasite called Plasmodium. The organism is injected into people
through the bite of infected mosquitoes. Malaria can be treated, but in many areas
the parasites have become resistant to different drugs.
Dimopoulos and his team are studying ways to make mosquitoes resist infection
by the parasite. There are hundreds of kinds of mosquitoes in the world. Most
do not spread malaria. Some have immune systems that kill Plasmodium.
DIMOPOULOS: "We are particularly interested in these types of immune
reactions that are responsible for killing the malaria parasite. Because we
think once we understand how they work, we could be able to manipulate the
mosquito genetically and convert mosquitoes that can transmit malaria into
mosquitoes that cannot transmit malaria."
researchers have developed a way to make genetic changes in the three mosquito
species known to spread malaria. The changes cause their systems to attack the
parasite, blocking its development. Other researchers are working on ways to
spread these genetically modified insects among mosquito populations.
Dimopoulos says there is still a long way to go, but current malaria research
is highly promising.
new vaccine is in final testing. So far it has proven effective at preventing
the disease in half of those vaccinated -- which is more than ever before.
at the Malaria Institute at Macha in Zambia, researchers are developing an
easier way to identify malaria. The test uses saliva instead of blood to
diagnose the infection.
in malaria control are mainly based on the use of insecticide sprays and treated
bed nets. But George Dimopoulos says malaria needs to be attacked with drugs,
with vaccines, with bed nets -- with whatever researchers can find.
DIMOPOULOS: "Malaria needs to be attacked with multiple weapons. There is
not one magic bullet to control this disease."
that's the VOA Special English Development Report, written by June Simms. Transcripts
and MP3s of our reports are at voaspecialenglish.com. I'm Steve Ember.