Leveraging Discoveries in Drosophila to Eliminate Malaria
Mosquitoes and other insects are vectors for malaria, leishmaniasis, sleeping sickness, river blindness, Dengue fever, Zika, and Lyme Disease – diseases that affect hundreds of millions of people and cause several million deaths every year. Most of these diseases require the disease-causing pathogen to traverse the insect salivary gland (SG) for transmission to humans. The goal of our current work is to develop and test strategies to block malaria transmission by intervening at the level of the mosquito vector, preventing transmission of disease by causing the timely death of the mosquito SG. Our studies combine the considerable expertise of the Andrew Lab regarding Drosophila SG biology with the extensive experience of the Jacobs-Lorena lab in mosquito-parasite interactions. We are asking if and how knock-down or knock-out of key Drosophila SG regulators affect mosquito SGs and malaria transmission.