A team of scientists have discovered why malaria mosquitoes prefer to feed on blood from people infected with malaria, and their research could lead to new ways to fight the disease. Edward Baran reports.
We all know mosquitoes spread malaria -- a disease that can be deadly, particularly in young children. Now research shows that the malaria parasite in infected humans sends a signal to attract mosquitoes to feed from them and continue the cycle of infection. In this lab in Sweden the scientists made the discovery by feeding mosquitoes with infected and uninfected blood. SOUNDBITE (English) POST-DOCTORAL RESEARCHER NOUSHIN EMAMI, SAYING: "People think that it is by chance that mosquitoes go and bite people infected with the malaria parasite, and get the parasite. Then, next time they bite another person they can then transfer the parasite to the next person. But we understand that no, this is not by chance - the parasite makes a signal for its own transmission." The study found that mosquitoes were attracted by the smell of a substance produced by malaria parasites. If the transmission of these signals can be disrupted, it could have implications for the spread of the disease. Researchers are looking into ways this can be done -- and hope they might break the cycle of infection for future generations. Independent scientists welcomed the study but say further tests are needed required.