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January 6, 2009

Certain drugs can make human blood toxic to disease-carrying insects.


Killing mosquitoes with your blood. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Vaccines can protect people from insect-borne diseases like malaria. But you can’t vaccinate everyone. That’s why scientists are considering drugs called endectocides, which make human blood temporarily toxic to disease-carrying insects. In Senegal, Colorado State University molecular biologist Brian Foy and his colleague Massamba Sylla are testing a potential endectocide that people already take to kill parasitic worms.

BRIAN FOY (Colorado State University):
If, simultaneously, it’s killing the mosquitoes that are biting them that are also transmitting malaria, then you have a dual purpose drug: basically, something that can not only take care of the parasites in your body but also prevent parasites from being transmitted around the community.

If it does, the next question is how often to give it out, since the drug clears from the body in a couple weeks. I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the Science Society.