A new breed of mosquitoes found in Mali in West Africa, which is said to be naturally resistant to malaria could be helpful in combating the disease, according to scientists.
A team including researchers from the University of Bamako in West Africa and three top US-based institutes said they have also identified a gene that could be key to determining how resistant the mosquitoes are to infection by the parasite, reported the online edition of Science magazine.
The team found that many Anopheles gambiae mosquitoes -- Africa's most important malaria vector -- are already resistant to Plasmodium falciparum, the malaria parasite.
Malaria is an infectious disease characterised by cycles of chill, fever and sweating caused by the parasitic infection of red blood cells by a protozoan that is transmitted by the bite of an infected female mosquito.
It affects approximately 300 million people worldwide and kills between one and 1.5 million people every year.
Previously extremely widespread, malaria is now mainly confined to Africa, Asia and Latin America. The situation has become even more complex over the last few years with the increase in resistance to drugs normally used to combat the parasite that causes the disease.