Science

Malaria parasites killed quickly by blue dye

Malaria parasites killed quick...
An Anopheles mosquito, which is known to spread malaria
An Anopheles mosquito, which is known to spread malaria
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An Anopheles mosquito, which is known to spread malaria
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An Anopheles mosquito, which is known to spread malaria

According to the World Health Organization, malaria is responsible for approximately 445,000 deaths every year. That number may be due to drop, however, as scientists have found that a human-safe blue dye kills parasites in patients' bloodstreams within two days – that's faster than has ever been possible before.

When a person is bitten by a malaria-carrying mosquito, one-celled malaria parasites enter their red blood cells and split into male and female sex cell parasites known as gametocytes. Should another mosquito then bite that person, they suck up those gametocytes, which mate in their stomach. This results in a batch of new malaria parasites that make their way to the mosquito's salivary glands, where they can infect another person whom the mosquito bites.

Ordinarily, malaria is treated with combination therapies based on the drug artemisinin. Unfortunately, however, even after the treatment ends, the gametocytes can remain in the patient's bloodstream for up to several weeks. This means that any mosquitoes which bite them in that time can still spread the disease to another person.

That's where the methylene blue dye comes in.

In field tests conducted in Mali, it was added to artemisinin-based medication, and was found to eradicate all gametocytes in patients' bloodstreams within as little as 48 hours. The dye is typically used in laboratories to distinguish dead cells from living cells, and was reportedly well-tolerated by the test subjects. It does, however, have one interesting side effect.

"I have used it myself, and it turns your urine bright blue," says lead scientist Teun Bousema, of the Netherlands' Radboud University. "This is something that we need to solve, because it could stop people from using it."

Also taking part in the project were scientists from the University of California - San Francisco, and the Malaria Research and Training Center.

Source: Radboud University

8 comments
socalboomer
I would NOT mind the blue urine. I'd think it friggin hilarious! Almost a side-benefit of killing evil malaria!
robin63
I have had the parasite scabie mites for 2 years. It is horrible. In all my reading I found some suggestions to drink blue colored drinks. It dudnt make since to me till now. Wish I would have believed it 2 years ago. They must have something here with the blue dye coloring!
CzechsterMarek
Now don't eat the blue snow and pass on the blue snow cone.
guzmanchinky
What's scary is that there are people out there who wouldn't use it because it turns their pee blue.
JimFox
Amazing, if true. Such a simple, cheap cure sounds impossible, after the millions spent on research for a vaccine.
JimFox
Will they next trial this for other species? Those that carry Dengue, Yellow Fever, etc- Aedes Aegypti, the striped killer?
amazed W1
Socalboomer you're absolutely right. The warfarin derived "blood thinners" used to help deal with a clot, (I had one when much younger) makes for rainbow coloured urine. In those days of old fashioned wall plus single gutter urinals I used to stand upstream of everybody else, and the effect was amazing! Game over now but the best comment I had was "That's what happens if you drink Pernod".
Bone Machine
Robin, Buy methylene blue for fish (very cheap) and a carrier oil like jojoba and mix a few drops of the blue in and ounce of oil. Funnel the mixture into a rollerball bottle and use it frequently. Keep the oil just slightly blue so it does not dye your skin. You scabies will be dead and your itch will be gone.