Feeding mosquito with human blood. Mosquitoes transmit the single-celled plasmodium parasite, which is responsible for infecting humans with malaria.
Feeding mosquito with human blood. Mosquitoes transmit the single-celled plasmodium parasite, which is responsible for infecting humans with malaria.

JCU develops mosquito disease cure

A VACCINE to block a parasite from infecting people with one of the deadliest diseases in the world is to be developed in Cairns.

James Cook University has attracted a $437,000 federal grant over five years for a new project targeting malaria.

The project, being carried out by researchers at JCU's Australian Institute of Tropical Health and Medicine, will aim to better understand the transmission of plasmodium, the single-celled parasite that causes malaria after being transmitted to humans via mosquitoes.

JCU researchers, led by Cairns based biologist Dr Stephan Karl, will use a newly-established experimental platform that will enable them to feed human blood infected with plasmodium to anopheles farauti mosquitoes.

 

Feeding mosquito with human blood in its body.
Feeding mosquito with human blood in its body.

 

They will then start examining the factors in the blood that determine the success of a plasmodium infection, enabling them to test a new vaccine and drug candidates for their ability to block transmission of the parasite.

The study is also being worked upon by researchers from Griffith University, and the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research and the Papua New Guinea Institute of Medical Research.

Malaria is considered one of the world's deadliest diseases.

The World Health Organisation said last year there were 219 million cases of malaria reported worldwide in 2017, and approximately 435,000 malaria deaths.

The disease is endemic in the Western Pacific, in particular Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands.

According to Queensland Health, several hundred imported cases are recorded in Australia each year, and many of these occur among migrants, who may have lost partial immunity, visiting their native country. Most cases diagnosed in Australia are imported from PNG.