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Mosquito Roundup

May 25, 2007

A promising new treatment for malaria is based on an ancient herbal remedy.


Updating an ancient remedy. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Malaria kills as many as three million people each year, mostly children. Johns Hopkins researchers report that they have developed a drug that cured malaria in mice. The synthetic compound is related to an ancient Chinese remedy, derived from the sweet wormwood plant, and used for thousands of years. But the new compound is far more potent and long lasting. Still, the drug will have to be tested more rigorously in mice before human trials can begin.

In related news, the best remedy for malaria is to avoid getting it in the first place, which is best accomplished by repelling mosquitos. Electronic mosquito repellents produce a high-pitched sound to drive mosquitos away. But a new review of studies on the effectiveness of these devices reveals that they don’t work. Ten different studies found that the noise had no effect on mosquitos, neither repelling them nor making them less likely to attack.

I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.