Malaria Lab Fights Killer
Malaria kills one million, and sickens 500 million people every year. With
ten percent of the world population at risk, people of faith and science are
committed to stopping malaria deaths. Lilla Marigza talks to researchers
committed to the cause.
(Locator: Baltimore, Maryland)
Researcher Andrea Henkel hopes her meticulous work
with mosquitoes will someday stop the spread of
malaria. Her motivation is personal.
Andrea Henkel, Johns Hopkins Malaria Research
Institute at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of
Public Health: “Two summers ago I spent in West
Africa, in Togo. That summer was particularly rainy,
so a lot of children ended up falling ill to malaria
and I watched countless children die, especially a
few that were really close to me.”
Henkel herself came down with malaria.
Andrea Henkel: “I was lucky to have a strong
immune system that was able to fight it, but it
really empowered me to want to look at infectious
diseases, especially in the developing world.”
Henkel is a research fellow at the Johns Hopkins
Malaria Research Institute in Baltimore.
Andrea Henkel: “We’re looking at a novel drug that…”
Marcelo Jacobs-Lorena: (swats bug)
Andrea Henkel: “Oh, that’s bad news.”
Cameraperson: “What was that?”
Marcelo Jacobs-Lorena: “A stray mosquito.”
The lab breeds 10,000 mosquitoes a week.
Marcelo Jacobs-Lorena, Johns Hopkins Malaria
Research Institute at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg
School of Public Health: “Here are the trays where
the larvae grow. And the food is cat food.
Scientists like Marcelo Jacobs-Lorena have
devoted their careers to malaria research.
Marcelo Jacobs-Lorena: "We started working with
bacteria that live inside the mosquito midgut.”
Researchers have found a way to prevent infected
mosquitoes from spreading the malaria parasite by
altering bacteria in the insects’ digestive system.
The bug still bites, but the parasite never makes it
out of the mosquito.
Marcelo Jacobs-Lorena: “This type of approach has
shown a lot of promise. We can show that those
genetically modified bacteria can indeed inhibit
parasite development in the mosquito almost
Jacobs-Lorena says labs all over the world are
working on ways to slow the spread of malaria in
mosquito populations, but technology is only one
piece of the puzzle.
Marcelo Jacobs-Lorena: “I think there’s a strong
consensus among all scientists, the only way where
we will have a world with no malaria is if we
integrate all possible approaches. So we have to
work with insecticides, including insecticide
impregnated bed nets.”
The scientific community has found partners in the
faith community. The United Methodist Church’s
No Malaria initiative goes into communities with
a comprehensive strategy that includes distributing
bed nets and draining standing water where
In the Democratic Republic of Congo, Bishop Nkulu
Ntanda Ntambo spearheaded the excavation of 25 miles
Bishop Nkulu Ntanda Ntambo, North Katanga Annual
Conference: “No more mosquitoes, now. As it used to
be. All these
houses, when you go in you will find mosquito nets
and now with the canal, including mosquito nets,
many lives are being saved.”
Andrea Henkel: “Not just one of these efforts is
eventually going to eradicate malaria. It has to be
this confluence of ideas, and that’s what eventually
will prevent all these children from dying.”
For more information on how you can prevent
malaria deaths, visit
Posted: April 25, 2011