New environment-friendly toxin belonging to botox family selectively target mosquitoes and could help reduce malaria. The findings of the study are published in the journal Nature Communications.
Botox (Botulinum neurotoxins) and the toxin causing tetanus belong to the same family of proteins and are among the most toxic substances known. Previously this family of toxins has been believed to only target vertebrates such as humans, mice, and birds. But now, researchers have found a toxin which targets the group of mosquitoes that are responsible for transmitting malaria.
"We have discovered a neurotoxin, PMP1, that selectively targets malaria mosquitos, demonstrating that this family of toxins have a much broader host spectrum than previously believed", says Pål Stenmark of Stockholm University and Lund University. He leads the joint research group from the two Swedish universities that have discovered the new neurotoxin in close collaboration with Sarjeet Gill's research group at the University of California.
Today, insecticides and mosquito nets treated with insecticides are the main means of combating the spread of malaria, but new methods of combating malaria mosquitoes must be developed constantly as mosquitoes become resistant to most toxins over time.
"We found PMP1 in a bacterium from two threatened habitats: a mangrove swamp in Malaysia and the forest floor in Brazil. It shows just how important it is to protect these treasure chests of biological diversity", Pål Stenmark says.