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We can Fight Malaria by Changing the Flavor of Humans, say Scientists

About 440,000 people, most of them children, died of malaria, says WHO

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FILE - Mosquitoes live inside a stock cage in a mosquito laboratory at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in London, May 30, 2013. Researchers at the school discovered that malaria-infected mosquitoes are more attracted to human odors. VOA

Have you ever noticed how some people seem to be bitten by mosquitoes more than anyone else?

Apparently, some people taste better to malaria mosquitoes than others, and scientists are trying to figure out why so they can turn that information into a repellent to protect us all from malaria.

Such a repellent might be able to prevent some of the 214 million cases of malaria the World Health Organization says occurred in 2015, mostly in Africa. About 440,000 people, most of them children, died of malaria, the WHO said.

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Researchers from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine have found evidence of what attracts malaria mosquitoes to humans for a blood meal, and the smell isn’t the only thing.

FILE - A worker of the Ministry of Public Health and Population fumigates in the street against mosquito breeding to prevent diseases such as malaria, dengue and Zika in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Feb. 15, 2016. VOA
FILE – A worker of the Ministry of Public Health and Population fumigates in the street against mosquito breeding to prevent diseases such as malaria, dengue and Zika in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Feb. 15, 2016. VOA

Christopher Potter, an assistant professor of neuroscience, is working on the sensing ability of mosquitoes. Unlike humans who have one nose, Potter says, mosquitoes have three pairs of noses.

These include two antennae and two maxillary palps, which are fuzzy appendages below the insect’s head and are parallel to the feeding needle, Potter said. At the end of that feeding needle or proboscis, are the labella, two small regions with neurons that recognize smells and tastes.

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“So this suggests that the mosquito brain might also have a region of the brain that’s dedicated to flavor, to combining smell and taste,” he said.

“And that is something they are very likely doing when they are actually landing on us and looking around for a place to bite,” he added. “They are actually smelling us and tasting us, and perhaps that means they are also flavoring us and that is part of what they are looking for when they’re trying to decide who they should bite from and where they are going to bite.”

Potter and his colleagues made this discovery about the malaria mosquito, Anopheles gambiae, by making certain neurons in the insect’s noses fluoresce, or glow green. They wanted to trace those green-glowing external sensory neurons to the brain.

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The green-glowing neurons lighted up in the brain when they were exposed to complex odors. These help the mosquito distinguish human blood from that of other warm-blooded animals.

It’s the first time scientists were able to pinpoint the exact location of the senses of smell and taste in mosquitoes.

By studying the smell- and taste-detecting neurons, the finding suggests that it’s possible mosquitoes like not only the smell of humans but our flavor as well.

“The long-term goal is to identify better repellents, things that will be better, safer, cheaper and more effective that we can manufacture on a larger scale and distribute it across the world.”

Currently, the insect repellent DEET is widely used in malaria-endemic regions, but it’s not 100 percent effective, and a fair amount of the chemical needs to be applied to the skin to repel mosquitoes. (VOA)

The research was published in the journal Nature Communications.

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Do You Know Which is the Unhealthiest Country in the World?

Are you living in the most unhealthy country in the world?

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Unhealthiest country in the world
Did you think you were living in one of the world's healthiest country? Think again! VOA

Geneva, September 28, 2017 : Do you know which is the unhealthiest country in the world? If you think it is some region from the African continent, you are mistaken.

According to a new study by Clinic Compare, the Czech Republic has been recognized as the unhealthiest country in the world.

Drawing upon data gathered by the World Health Organization (WHO), CIA World Factbook and the World Lung Association, 179 countries around the world were assessed on three key factors,

  • Alcohol consumption
  • Tobacco consumption
  • Prevalence of obesity

The study thus revealed the most unhealthy country in the world – Czech Republic, and highlighted the need for citizens to change their lifestyle in order to combat life-threatening illnesses and maintain and enjoy a healthy life.

ALSO READ Live Healthy Lifestyle with these Diet Hacks

World’s most unhealthy countries

 

1. Czech Republic
2. Russia
3. Slovenia
4. Belarus
5. Slovakia
6. Hungary
7. Croatia
8. Poland
9. Luxembourg
10. Lithuania and the United States

 

As per the examination, the residents of Czech Republic positioned as the world’s greatest liquor consumers, with every individual expending 13.7 liters of liquor for each annum (around 1.5 shots per day). They additionally ranked eleventh on the list of the highest tobacco customers.

This comes as a surprise as poverty-stricken countries of Africa were instead found to be among the healthiest countries in the world.

According to the research, Eastern Europe emerged as the unhealthiest region in the world, occupying nine out of the best 10 top spots in the list.

41 per cent of the population in Samoa was further revealed to have a BMI over 30, making Oceania the world’s fattest region. Also included in the top 10 list of the fattest regions were Fiji, Tuvalu and Kiribati.

Healthiest Country in the World

The findings revealed that the healthiest country was Afghanistan with merely 2.7 per cent of the population having a BMI over 30. This places the country on the world’s second lowest rate of obesity.

It was further revealed that the citizens of Afghanistan consume the least recorded quantity of alcohol and smoke 83 cigarettes a year. This can be largely attributed to the nation’s laws that forbid the possession and consumption of alcohol.

The research placed Guinea as the second healthiest country, closely followed by Niger and Nepal.

ALSO READ WHO says Millions of People are Dying Pre-mature Deaths Due to Non-Communicable Diseases

World’s healthiest countries

 

1. Afghanistan

2. Guinea

3. Niger

4. Nepal

5. DR Congo

6. Eritrea

7. Malawi

8. Somalia

9. Mozambique

10. Ethiopia

 

Eight Countries from Africa made it to the list of the healthiest countries in the world, which comes as a pleasant surprise for all.

According to a WHO report released in mid-September, it was revealed that non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, cancer and cardio-vascular diseases are an increasing cause of premature deaths all around the world, taking as many as 30 million lives annually.

These diseases cause self-inflicted damage and trace their roots to individual lifestyle choices such as smoking, alcohol consumption, drugs and unhealthy or unbalanced diet.

The new findings put greater pressure on the countries that have made it to the list of unhealthy countries, thereby urging them to undertake stronger measures.

 

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An international research team shows that carbohydrates may play a vital role in improving malaria vaccine

Malaria infects over 200 million people worldwide each year and kills around 650,000 people

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Malaria vaccine
Carbohydrates may improve malaria vaccine. Pixabay
  • Carbohydrates on the surface of malaria parasites play an important role in their ability to infect mosquito Andy human hosts
  • The new research is aimed at improving malaria vaccine design
  • It’s hoped that a version of RTS, S with added carbohydrates will perform better than the current vaccine

New Delhi, September 18, 2017: Offering vital clues to improving malaria vaccine, an international research team has shown that carbohydrates on the surface of malaria parasites play a critical role in their ability to infect mosquito and human hosts.

The discovery, published in the journal Nature Communications, also suggests steps that may improve the only malaria vaccine approved to protect people against Plasmodium falciparum malaria — the most deadly form of the disease.

The team had shown that the malaria parasite “tags” its proteins with carbohydrates in order to stabilise and transport them and that this process was crucial to completing the parasite’s life cycle.

“Interfering with the parasite’s ability to attach these carbohydrates to its proteins hinders liver infection and transmission to the mosquito and weakens the parasite to the point that it cannot survive in the host,” said Justin Boddey from Walter and Eliza Hall Institute in Parkville, Victoria, Australia.

Malaria infects over 200 million people worldwide each year and kills around 650,000 people, predominantly pregnant women and children. Efforts to eradicate malaria require the development of new therapeutics, particularly an effective malaria vaccine.

Also readNearly 900,000 Nigerian Children Receive Anti-Malaria Vaccination: WHO Report

The first malaria vaccine approved for human use — RTS,S/AS01 — got the nod of the European regulators in July 2015 but has not been as successful as hoped with marginal efficacy that wanes over time.

The new research is aimed at improving malaria vaccine design.

“The protein used in the RTS, S vaccine mimics one of the proteins we’ve been studying on the surface of the malaria parasite that is readily recognised by the immune system,” Ethan Goddard-Borger from Walter and Eliza Hall Institute said.

“With this study, we’ve shown that the parasite protein is tagged with carbohydrates, making it slightly different to the vaccine, so the antibodies produced may not be optimal for recognising target parasites.”

“It may be that a version of RTS, S with added carbohydrates will perform better than the current vaccine,” he said, adding that there were many documented cases where attaching carbohydrates to a protein improved its efficacy as a vaccine. (IANS)

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‘Don’t Sensationalize or Glamorize Suicide’ Asserts WHO ; Says Media Can Play a Significant Role in Preventing Suicides

WHO scientists assert that journalists can help overcome this taboo by encouraging people to seek help and to speak openly about their distress

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Suicide
A makeshift memorial for actor Robin Wlliiams is shown outside a home which was used in the filming of the movie "Mrs. Doubtfire", Aug. 15, 2014, in San Francisco. Authorities said Williams committed suicide. (VOA)

Geneva, September 11, 2017 : The World Health Organization reports about 800,000 people commit suicide every year. To mark this year’s World Suicide Prevention Day (September 10), WHO is stressing the important role the media can play in stopping people from taking their own lives.

Worldwide, every 40 seconds, someone takes their own life. The World Health Organization reports for every suicide, 20 others, mainly young people, attempt to take their own lives. WHO says suicide is the second leading cause of death among 15 to 29 year olds.

It finds most suicides, more than 78 percent, occur in low-and middle-income countries and risk factors include mental disorders, particularly depression and anxiety resulting from alcohol use.

WHO cites growing evidence that the media can play a significant role in preventing suicide by reporting responsibly on these tragedies.

Scientist in WHO’s department of mental health and substance abuse, Alexandra Fleischmann tells VOA people are often reluctant to talk about suicide because of the stigma attached. She says journalists can help to overcome this taboo by encouraging people to seek help and to speak openly about their distress.

“It is also important to stress that the encouragement to work with the media and not just to talk about the don’ts. Don’t put it in the headlines,” she said. “Don’t put the picture of the person who died. Don’t sensationalize it. Don’t glamorize it.”

WHO warns irresponsible reporting of this sort often can trigger copycat suicides or increase the risk.

The UN health agency reports the most common methods of suicide are self-poisoning with pesticide and firearms. It says many of these deaths could be prevented by restricting access to these means. (VOA)