MONDAY, JUNE 18, 2018

Microwaves could be used to fight malaria

Researchers from one of Panama's top research institutes and Penn State University have developed a technique that may allow full-body microwave scanners to cure malaria.
Researchers Carmenza Spadafora and Jose Stoute have created an approach that emits low-powered microwaves that heat iron-rich, toxic crystals – remnants of digested blood cells in the parasite – fatally releasing its contents, Fast Company reports. According to a study published in Nature, the extra iron atom that the malaria parasite carries causes it to selectively absorb microwave energy while normal blood cells remain unharmed.
If future studies are successful, a human-sized device might be able to provide an instant cure for malaria.
While nearly one million people die from malaria each year, and 3.3 billion people, half the planet's population, live at risk of contracting the disease, developing treatments has never been a high priority for pharmaceutical companies. Profit margins on vaccines are thin as victims have little or no ability to pay. In addition, multi-drug resistant malaria is becoming prevalent in South America, Africa and Southeast Asia, and the most effective drug combinations are losing effectiveness.
The microwave study could potentially create a treatment no parasite could be able to survive, according to Fast Company.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is sponsoring a second round of research into the approach as part of a special $100 million grant program designed to fund bold ideas that are typically too risky to attract most types of funding. Some other innovations related to malaria focus on the parasite in mosquitoes. The methods include zapping mosquitoes with lasers, genetically engineering them so they won't mate or altering their stomach bacteria.