Increasing resistance in mosquitoes to pyrethroids, a common insecticide used in bed nets, is one of the factors responsible for a recent stagnation in the decline of malaria infections and deaths. In some parts of Africa, malaria cases and victims are even rising due to the eroding efficacy of this critical malaria tool.
Scientists have developed an insecticide formulation that interferes with the mechanisms mosquitoes use to defeat pyrethroids. A study conducted in Uganda with over 23,000 children proved that the innovation is capable of significantly restoring the efficacy of pyrethroids. The new bed nets use a higher concentration of piperonyl butoxide (PBO), a chemical that obstructs the enzymes mosquitoes employ to limit the effects of pyrethroids.
The new bed nets are great news. However, scientists warn that it is just a matter of time before mosquitoes evolve and the PBO-treated nets become obsolete too. Further investments in research and innovation remain crucial if we want to eradicate malaria. Gene drive is one of the options that could complement current methods and contribute to the fight against malaria.
More information is available at Medical Express.