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Malaria breakthrough as scientists find ‘highly effective’ way to kill parasite (theguardian.com)
329 points by elorant 6 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 113 comments





As a kid growing up in Malaria country I got yellow jaundice. Doctor told my dad that since I had had yellow jaundice I was "immune" to malaria. Its been 35 odd years since I have taken any malaria medication. Family members often get malaria once or so a year. A few years ago I decided to check to see if there were was any literature online with link between Malaria and jaundice. I couldn't find any papers online. Now I don't know whether what the doctor told my dad was true or there is something to be said about me having mentally told myself I am immune to malaria. To this day my dad maintains I cannot get malaria. The younger me believed him wholeheartedly, the older me would be grateful for some research papers on the topic.

I am not sure this if of any use and I am nowhere near an expert on this field. But I found this article by doing a google search for "link malaria parasite hepatitis" : https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3097216/

Hepatitis is a major cause of jaundice (jaundice is a symptom after all, of the underlying disease).

So it could be that even if you are infected, the symptoms are less pronounced?

Again, I am not an expert. But don't give up hope in doing your own research. Sometimes you will see something that even "experts" miss.


Thank you for the link. I skimmed through it (not being a medical person myself). It is most definitely the closest formal confirmation of what I was told back then.

Unless you had newborn jaundice, which is unrelated to hepatitis and quite common.

I was probably between 5 and 7 years old. I remember because my village gang were fascinated with how yellow my urine was. It is the one time I can say I won the pissing contest :-).

Any chance you were screened for anemias? Carriers for sickle, thalassemia,and G6PD deficiency all have malaria protective effects and ties in nicely with yellow urine and jaundice. Hemolysis increases urobilin in urine leading to a more yellow color.

These are pretty common in african populations so I wouldn't be too surprised.


I don't recall ever being screened for any of the anemias. One of my late cousins was anemic. It was the cause of his death (couldn't get an ambulance and blood transfusion in time). If it is genetic perhaps there is a chance I am a carrier??? Anyway the yellow urine didn't last too long if my memory serves me well (week or two at most) and I have been relatively healthy since then (touch wood). As I result of having had yellow jaundice I was told I could never donate blood.

Probably an anemia then! Carriers still have protective effects without too much of the bad, there may have been some precipitating event during your episode.

That is awesome! Not to go too far off topic here but I sense that you must have an absolutely remarkable life story

Visited malaria country recently and was told by doctors that most people growing up there end up with constant low levels of the malaria parasite (like 1-2% of red blood cells maybe) that their bodies have just learned to live with. Not exactly immunity.

> ... their bodies have just learned to live with. Not exactly immunity

Doesn't exactly sound like lack of immunity either.

I mean, completely non immune people just die.


Agreed!

I do think there is some truth in immunity (I grew up in Limpopo province) but there is also very localised variation in spread of malaria. The area where I am from is in the malaria area, but few people get malaria. My grandmother had malaria six times, but ever since Dr Annecke's time the area has seen few cases of malaria and you are more likely to get it in Kruger or Vhembe. So it could be that your family members live right in the centres of some of the localised malaria areas.

I've never had malaria and the general approach is 1) if you think you may have malaria keep on testing until it's positive. This is very important as you'll get multiple false negatives. 2) Taking medication is counter productive if you live in these areas permanently or visit frequently as doctors in Limpopo are probably the most clued up on malaria of any place in the world, should you get infected. (Commercial pilots, on the other hand, take very expensive and effective anti-malaria preventative medication.)


This reminds me of an interesting story. The host of The Portal podcast, Eric Weinstein went on the Joe Rogan show where he shared a story: he used to get very easily sun burnt. No chance of getting a tan. He'd just burn. Then, one day he took LSD and then stopped burning. Crazy story. No follow up study =).

Sounds like Eric swapped consciousness with a parallel Eric that’s now very confused about his sunburn situation

The Psychedelics Encylopedia (3rd Ed, Peter Stafford), P73 info on using LSD to cure various physical ailments. Too long to reproduce here, suggest you get the book, you won't regret it.

Anyway, also shows before & after photos of of treatment of sever psoriasis with LSD and ritalin(?!)



Andy Weil has a very similar story about LSD curing his allergy to cats.

sickle cell anemia can make you resistant to malaria and also cause jaundice.

Have you been tested for Gilbert's syndrome? They say it is a disease from natural selection from Malaria. All jaundice related conditions have a degree of protection against Malaria.

No never been tested for Gilbert's syndrome. I must confess I have never heard of it or anyone referring to it.

> All jaundice related conditions have a degree of protection against Malaria.

I guess this is the general advice I was given


Actual testing for Gilbert's isn't done all that often. It's usually diagnosed when otherwise healthy bloodwork shows elevated levels of unconjugated bilirubine. It's been shown to offer some protection against heart disease, and it can cause mild jaundice, and stools that are a bit more on the yellow side.

> Family members often get malaria once or so a year.

Wow they must be some tough people. That's no joke.


Malaria is such a big part of life there that you can literally get medication over the counter. Mosquito nets are everywhere, shops have sizeable sections of mosquito repellent, windows have shutters with mosquito nets on the outside. People are supposed to take the malaria preventative pill but sometimes stocks run out and sometimes people are just people and stop taking the pills. As soon as someone doesn't feel well malaria is usually one of the suspects. Sometimes people just take a fall course of malaria treatment without even going to see a doctor. Then life moves on. There are some deaths, hard to quantify but it is usually the deadlier form of malaria that affects the brain and the sick person takes too long to see a doctor.

This article is so bad it's basically saying nothing at all, and the headline is basically unsupported by the article.

In fact, the quality/coherence of the whole thing seems to be about on par with those AI-generated articles from OpenAI a few months ago.

This article shouldn't be here, let alone under this headline.


Yes, the article refers to ivermectin as a bacteria. Ivermectin is a drug that kills parasites. If ivermectin actuall is effective against malaria, I would like to ask why did it take 40 years to discover this?!?

Ivermectin causes severe reactions in people with onchocerciasis (River Blindness) unless treated carefully. Now that oncho is nearly eradicated, deploying ivermectin widely has become easier.


Thank you, I thought so when reading the title so I decided to see the comments if I'm right first.

I watched a Ted talk sometime ago about how they've discovered a method to genetically modify mosquitoes to eradicate entire populations of mosquitoes from an area (I think it was it made them mos babies die due to genetic engineering).

I couldn't find it now but it seemed like a massive success at the time almost eliminating all mosquitoes from the a city in Brazil (iirc).

Anyone know what happened to it? If that were to come to fruition than a lot of disease in addition to malaria like chikungunya, dengue, etc will be cured too.


This kind of experiment is called a gene drive, and there's a huge debate in scientific communities right now around whether it's responsible or not to use them, particularly around the mosquito problem. A professor of mine who works in the field was discussing this with us last week.

The idea with mosquitoes specifically is that we can wipe out specifically the mosquito populations that carry most diseases. The debate is around whether or not this will upset balance in ecosystems (many feel it will not).

This is just my interpretation, but it seems like there is a sensible portion of detractors who simply want to derisk the experiment as much as possible by collecting more and more data. Then there are others who are in general opposed to this sort of interference in an animal population on ethical grounds.

Related article: https://www.sciencenews.org/article/lab-tests-gene-drive-wip...


> This is just my interpretation, but it seems like there is a sensible portion of detractors who simply want to derisk the experiment as much as possible by collecting more and more data.

This is so infuriating. Many people will die during this extended hemming and hawing.

Humans have driven countless important species to extinction with no thought, but we have to vacillate over a species that is responsible for more deaths than all the wars in human history combined?

My only reservation about driving the mosquitoes to extinction with a gene drive is that we can't guarantee that the mosquitoes will suffer.


When we drove species to extinction before, it was accidental, and it's usually viewed as a huge mistake.

I wouldn't want to be one of the people who advocates for it, and then it turns out to be a giant disaster. The potential risk seems huge and could affect generations. Although I it would be pretty easy to hedge against that risk by keeping some mosquitos/eggs alive in a lab, and if the experiment goes wrong, re-populate the mosquitos.

From an economic perspective, how does the cost of all this research compare to mass producing malaria medicine?


> and then it turns out to be a giant disaster

The purpose of this is to stop the current giant disaster of 1000+ people a day dying from malaria.

I can't help thinking that if this was affecting American middle class neighborhoods where environmentalists live, the mosquitos would be wiped out quicker than plastic straws.


Dont be so sure, I personally believe that alligators and crocodiles should be wiped out but the majority believes that the risk of being eaten alive during a swim in a pond nextdoor is an acceptable risk and the natural right of nature over humans. People have a weird disposition to protect nature beyond what is due. We effectively wiped out wolves from Europe and I personally couldnt be happier that I dont have to worry about a wolf attack or bear attack when I'm out in the forest, cycling.

Wolves wouldn't attack you, I guess you read one too many children's stories. The only possibility would be desperate, starving big pack of wolves and a lone traveler in the middle of nowhere. I've experienced it a bit, alone in winter mountains ski touring and camping, but even then they just carefully observe from distance and then move on.

As for bears, we have them back home in eastern europe, in fact vastly overpopulated given the area available and their territoriality. Practically no attacks on cyclists, hikers etc (yes like 1 every year or two something minor, more people die from ticks and tripping over stones and roots). If you make any noise while in the forest, they will notice you from far and avoid you.

That said, we don't have grizzly or polar bears, those are a bit different and majestic beasts.

As for general discussion, your point doesn't make much sense. We could wipe out just types of mosquitoes responsible for super-deadly diseases like malaria and dengue (and few others) and keep the annoying but otherwise harmless suckers still around. In my subjective opinion we wouldn't even notice the transition (at least not in the bad sense).


Still a threat in some parts of Europe... Including urban centers like Moscow.

I'm not suggesting that we don't address the giant disaster of millions dying from malaria. There is another solution right now: mass produce malaria drugs. How far down would that drive the death toll I wonder.

I actually wonder that too.

My impression is that malaria was wiped out in the rich world by methods that we now deny to Africa, like DDT.

I also believe malaria is a human only disease, so if you cure all sick humans fast enough, the disease dies out, and you're left with mosquitos that only suck blood and are annoying.

I suspect the problem with malaria drugs is not producing them at a factory, but getting them reliably into all sick patients in places where there aren't even doctors or roads.

Anyway, you claim this is a real solution: Is anyone actually ready to do this for real? If not, it's not a real alternative to the gene drive.


"There are over 200 species of malaria. Humans are infected by five. But birds, bats, lizards and antelopes are also hosts for malaria parasites." [1]

So no, unfortunately, curing all the humans will not wipe out malaria. The only real solution is to drive the mosquito vector to extinction, everything else is a temporary half-measure.

[1] https://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/scienceshow/ma...


In 1958 China wanted to eradicate 4 pests: the mosquitos responsible for malaria; the rodents that spread the plague; the pervasive airborne flies; and the sparrows which ate grain seed and fruit.

Guess what the result was: it exacerbated the Great Chinese Famine, in which 15–45 million people died of starvation. Because with no sparrows to eat the insects, locust populations ballooned, swarming the country.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Four_Pests_Campaign

Don't eradicate a species, before you're really sure it's not going to cause much larger problems.


> "Scientists say research conducted so far indicates that the targeted mosquito, Anopheles gambiae, is not a "keystone" species – meaning its disappearance would not have a significant negative ecological effect." [1]

[1] https://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2019/03/01/6987087...


What makes you think they won't come back as bad or worse then before? That's what we did with antibiotics and we ended up with superbugs.

There cannot be any doubt that the world is in a better place because of the presence of antibiotics.

Why not? It’s not as if you have an omniscient point of view and the ability to see the future of both branches. There will always be doubt about complex, unsolvable scenarios.

I think we can safely say the trade off of having antibiotics and a few superbugs, as opposed to no antibiotics where all bugs are superbugs was a good trade off.

yep, the mosquitoes serve no discernible value in the population, I saw go ahead and eradicate them.

Wanting any creature to suffer seems ... problematic.

That goes for wanting humans to suffer too: even the most "evil" among us are doing the best they know how, for some value of "best" that their brains arrive at as a result of the genetic lottery and the "programming" that they've had as a result of their lifetime of experiences. That certainly doesn't mean that we shouldn't vigorously oppose some of the things that such folks try to do. But at least an effort at compassion should be the default response. (As a certain Middle Eastern sage is reputed to have said circa 2,000 years ago: Love your enemies.)


I was being facetious, just wanted to emphasize how little I care about the well-being of the mosquitoes given the horrific suffering and death they have caused.

>As a certain Middle Eastern sage is reputed to have said circa 2,000 years ago: Love your enemies.

That Middle Eastern sage also reputed to have talked about those who would not listen to him being cast into outer darkness where there was weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth, and the worm never dies, and the fire is never quenched.


>Then there are others who are in general opposed to this sort of interference in an animal population on ethical grounds.

There are over 250,000 children under the age of 5 that die every year from malaria. In my ethical system, there is very little that can possibly justify trying to prevent something that will save the lives of 250,000 children a year. Anyone who actively tries to delay wiping out malaria causing mosquitoes is classified with climate change deniers and anti-vaxxers.


There are legitimate concerns about efficacy (there’s research that suggests that evolution will help mosquitoes escape the gene drive effect, making it useful for only a short period of time) and about unknown ecological consequences (knocking out a primary food source in an ecosystem can have devastating health and economic consequences). That’s not to say it’s not worth it, but it is worth debating and figuring out how to do it correctly. I don’t think it’s fair to say there’s a silver bullet that is being held up by ignorant/uninformed/unethical skeptics.

Do you have any links to the research about evolving to resist the gene drive effect?

There are bio-ethicists arguing that it's wrong to eradicate an entire species. There are also biologists expressing concern about damaging the food chain.

Regarding the former concern, it's only a tiny segment of our world that actually cares whether mosquitoes exist or not as part of some abstract idealism or wishing to preserve biodiversity. Most of us would be beyond happy to see this miserable creature eradicated.

Regarding the food chain, there are some 5,000 species of mosquitoes, of which only about 100 feed on mammalian blood. Out of those 100, nine species carry disease such as malaria and zika. If we only targeted those 9, we'd have a huge win while scarcely affecting the pollination and prey species role of the rest of the family of mosquitoes.

If we targeted the 100, we'd greatly increase the quality of life for not only 7 billion humans but also for tens of millions of mammals made miserable by blood sucking swarms. The great herds of reindeer of northern Canada, for example, deliberately run in single file, to reduce exposure to mosquitoes that swarm around them in the spring. Mosquitoes are a serious parasite up there; one herd animal can lose a pint or more of blood in a single day.


Which ecosystem are human-biting mosquitoes a primary food source in?

The unknown ecosystem changes are concerning.

A few years ago someone might say kill all bees kids are dying. We know better now.


In most places, honeybees are introduced livestock, not a 'natural' part of the ecosystem.

Its not even human-biting... it is the handful of species capable of transmitting certain diseases and parasites, out of thousands of other mosquito species waiting to fill the empty ecological niches.

Long-term, irreversible damages to entire species and ecosystems when perhaps a non-destructive solution is close?

I don't feel like reductive arguments are useful for incredibly complex systems.


Indeed. There is a vaccine being tested right now [0] and still a lot of potential for better coverage with insecticide treated bed nets [1][2] (which are pretty effective) and the number of Malaria cases is actually steadily decreasing [3].

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RTS,S

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mosquito_net#Insecticide-treat...

[2] https://ourworldindata.org/malaria#bed-nets

[3] https://ourworldindata.org/grapher/malaria-deaths-by-age


Letting 1000+ people a day die is a non-destructive solution?

You could be killing 100,000 people a day if things go differently than you expect.

Caution is in order.


I am not sure why this is downvoted, this is a legit point. If we eradicate mosquitos and they evolve to survive while creating another problem other than malaria, you literally can end up killing 100000 people every day instead of 1000.

Nobody has a way of eradicating mosquitoes. Particular species of mosquitoes are what is being targeted.

It is inconceivable to me how eradicating the malaria parasite by eradicating a few of the thousands of species of mosquitoes could end up killing hundreds of thousands of people every day. The much more likely scenario is that doing nothing allows the malaria parasite to evolve into something much more deadly (and that is pretty unlikely, given how long malaria has been around).


Clearly no one you know is in the malaria danger zone.

Care to spell out the "100,000 people a day dying" scenario?


Nobody is exactly crying for the guineaworm, and by interrupting its life cycle it may end up being eradicated.

Things that appear black/white seldom are.

Do you believe in evolution? The children who live are more likely to have anti-malaria related genes and so will there kids.

Would you save 250,000 children today just to condemned millions in the future as populations increase and more children as exposed and side effects are discovered.

I would probably save 250,000 kids today but tomorrow when millions more are at risk I will wish I thought longterm.


This was rather insightful.

But seriously I cannot believe that this technology exists, has proven successful in lab test but the reason they're holding it back is because they are afraid of tampering with the eco-system. I'm glad they didn't feel that when eradicating polio and smallpox and other things.

Anyway after reading some more I feel that part of it may be because it is modification to the gene. People are just afraid of some words like "nuclear", "gene", etc.

It seems whenever such technology is part of the solution the progress takes a lot time to happen because we cannot be too catious using it.


It is not because of gene manipulations per se but because by design it is proliferating by itself. Contrast that to a vaccine that turns out to be not safe: administering the vaccine would then just be stopped. If these gene-drive mosquitoes, on the other hand, turn out to be a problem, then there is no easy way to stop that. So better get it right the first time and - as much as you do not seem to like that - that requires time for due diligence.

There is some chance that a modified live vaccine can mutate into a superpathogen that becomes immediately widespread and deadly. There is a theory that this happened with the feline panleukopenia vaccine and that this became canine parvovirus, with rapid, worldwide distribution of the new pathogen. Something to think about when we put 250,000 human lives on one side of the balance and a big question mark on the other, and telling people that there's no good reason to be cautious.

If the actual full-strength virus hasn't managed it why would a live vaccine be any more likely to? It's not going to be replicating very much- it was designed to be bad at actually infecting people but good at provoking an immune response.

Both are possible at any point.

>Contrast that to a vaccine that turns out to be not safe: administering the vaccine would then just be stopped.

The smallpox vaccine which was responsible for the eradication of smallpox was a live virus and could spread from person to person. And through the course of time, it did mutate/become contaminated. It was originally cowpox, but at an unknown time sometime in the 1800's actually became vaccinia virus.

https://www.cdc.gov/smallpox/history/history.html https://virus.stanford.edu/pox/2000/vaccinia_virus.html

So, the great achievements of the past, such as smallpox eradication were not as risk-free as we perceive them with our 20-20 hindsight.


That's not what those links say:

> It is not known whether vaccinia virus is the product of genetic recombination, or if it is a species derived from cowpox virus or variola virus by prolonged serial passage, or if it is the living representative of a now extinct virus.


A problem is the discussion almost immediately derails into the eradication of all mosquitos, such as almost immediately happened right here. My understanding of these experiments is it is the eradication of particular subspecies of mosquitos, the ones able to transmit malaria, dengue fever, zika etc. And the difference is huge; wipe out a dozen subspecies and their ecological niches will be filled by other subspecies of mosquito.

Correct, there are thousands of species of mosquito that do not feed on human blood. The question is whether a genetic weapon could be made specific enough to target only the blood suckers while sparing the pollinators.

The techniques being looked at only target a single species. To spread, it requires interbreeding between species which is rare, and for the the new species to out compete and spread, which is unlikely since the condition is fatal to the carriers of the genetic modification's next generation.

This article can’t seem to decide whether it’s discussing ivermectin - an old antiparasitic derived from the avermectin produced by streptomyces - or bacteria.

It vacillates between “ivermectin effective” and “bacteria killed parasite,” which are in no way equivalent. The latter suggests something like “strep killed plasmodium, so maybe we can find the compound used and use it for malaria.” The latter suggests, well, ivermectin is the compound.

God, science journalism from scientifically illiterate rehashes of press releases is always such garbage.

The actual trial they are discussing doesn’t address using bacteria at all. It is directly the question of “if we repeatedly give ivermectin (the drug) to a population, can we reduce malaria transmission?” ( https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6... ) studied in 8 villages for 18 weeks during peak malaria season. With approx 75% participation, malaria incidence dropped around 20%.

Please let’s change the link to the Lancet article.


It almost sounds as if the journalist believes Ivermectin _is_ a bacteria and a drug derived from it is killing malaria. Agreed that this smacks of sloppy science journalism.

I think you are right. Here is a quote from the author, who is obviously talking about a bacterium killing plasmodium, of which ivermectin is not.

“We have discovered [that the] bacterium is highly effective in killing plasmodium falciparum, the parasite that causes malaria, but our research is more focused on pregnant women and children as they are more vulnerable. We are getting very motivating leads,” Kariuki said.

Perhaps the issue is that Kariuki is not a listed author on the Lancet paper, so perhaps he's just providing comment generally and not specifically?


This science journalism isn't all that bad, actually. The article is clearly about Ivermectin, and never mentions "bacteria killed parasite" - Additionally, Ivermectin and other avermectins are macrocyclic lactones and are derived from the bacterium Streptomyces avermitilis. So even if teh article mentions bacteria... it's still not wrong.

It’s the way the article mentions bacteria that’s wrong. The wording and capitalization really do imply that ivermectin is a species of bacteria.

Yeah, the summary (blood deadly to mosquitoes) seems completely unrelated to the rest of the article.

I'm disappointed by the quality of this article.


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ivermectin

Ivermeticin is commonly used in Veterinary medicine for cattle, horses, sheep, goats, dogs, etc. It is once in a while used to treat worms in people but is more common to use Pyrantel to treat human roundworm infections which are surprisingly common in developed countries.

Thus it is a common drug and will not be crazy expensive. It seems expensive to me when I have to buy it for an animal bigger than me at first world prices, but it is cheap in developing countries.


A lot of the strangeness seems to be in quotes from Dr. Karikuri. Did the author of the article misquote him or are his statements that confused?

Disappointing that this might halt approaches that involve KILLING ALL THE MOSQUITOS

When dosed with ivermectin, people's blood becomes deadly to mosquitoes. I guess it's better than nothing. But like you, I want that entire species gone.

Bite me and you die.


From the press article:

> Child malaria episodes could be reduced by up to 20% if populations living in high-risk areas are given Ivermectin, [....]

> An expert, independent from the study, said reports of resistance to the current class of malaria drugs are on the rise. [...] “There are cases of the drugs being sold over the counter, leading to their resistance and overuse. [...]”

If the plan is to give everyone the new drug, why don't they expect to get resistant strains soon?


We give it to our horses every year, and it still kills intestinal worms. Some genetic changes are just so large that they are extremely unlikely.

There is quite a lot of acquired resistance to ivermectin in horse strongyles. Just not in S. vulgaris that was causing infarction. Now, the recommendations for horses are changing to a quantitatively driven approach based on fecal egg count rather than routine annual deworming. Pasture rotation is also useful.

In sheep, the barber-pole worm Haemonchus has become resistant to most approved parasiticides. Resistance is a definite problem.


About time. Story:

Grew up in an area that is close to but not in Malaria country.

One day my mom comes back from visiting a friend that had malaria. Reports he was in tears due to suffering.

...that severely rattled me as a kid. Because I knew he's the kind of man that sews himself together again with fishing line. People like that do not as a general rule cry.


I contracted Malaria twice while driving around Africa for three years.

The first time in Mali was like the worst cold/flu I've ever had. The "cure" medicine (Coartem [1]) helped a lot. I was alright.

The second time I was in remote Angola and it was B.A.D. I was only 35 and very fit and strong. For five days I did not walk, talk, eat, sleep or function in any way. My friends were injecting me with the stronger version of Coartem twice a day, and I thought my head was going to split open from the severe headache. I did not think I was actually going to die, but mighty close. I lost 20lbs in those 5 days.

After that I was severely paranoid about covering up and using bug spray in the evenings, and I'm extremely happy I didn't get it again all through Southern and Eastern Africa for the 18 months after that.

I've been reading up on the drugs that are supposed to permanently remove it from your system, but they seem to function best on the Asian strain of Malaria. Maybe I'll take it anyway to prevent a relapse.

TLDR: I don't recommend getting Malaria.

[1] https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2009/02...


Ok translation: Ivermectin, a safe and well-tolerated bacteria-derived insecticide already used in humans, can kill mosquitoes. By feeding humans ivermectin, mosquito populations can be reduced, which in turn reduces spread of the malaria parasite which is transported via mosquitoes.

Does it work with West Nile, Zika, EEE and other mosquito borne diseases too? If so that’d be even better news on top of good.

Do the downvotes mean this blood medicine does not affect these mosquitoes?


The study looks completely focused on the malaria parasite and malaria carrying species, so we don't know for sure.

I'm wondering when we start using biologics to attack parasites. We've started using bacteriophages in trials to serious success, but I cannot wait until we start using something analogous to that to take out malaria.

The reason I say this is malaria is a nasty pathogen whose ability to develop resistance is well documented so even though this is an exciting breakthrough, we will always need another exciting breakthrough on the horizon to continually fight it.


Nobody posted the obligatory 'in mice' yet ?

... in mice.


No, not in mice. The trials were on people in Burkina Faso.

That title is like satire bait. I was hoping I would see a huge slipper squatting gif after clicking through.

I have to assume nobody read the article, it is nosenseical. Wtf hn.

>science journalism

I think this is the case for pretty much every area of journalism. If you are a subject matter expert, you quickly realize that 90% of coverage of that subject is dreadful.


We detached this subthread from https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=20943405.

I know it's really popular these days to shit on journalists, and I agree that the quality of some outlets can be less then desirable, but it is an incredibly difficult field that involves a lot of work, little pay, little thanks, and terrible job security.

Looking at this article, there is no Author by-line, but just the "Global Health" topic. Digging in, their Global Health topic is managed by their "Global development" team, which has a single writer assigned to it on their Contributors page [1]. I am sure free lancers contribute to this section as well, but I am trying to illustrate that this team/writer is probably on the bottom of the totem pole when it comes to resources and priority. If this story would never have been written if it had to pass HN's level of scientific article standards.

[1]: https://www.theguardian.com/index/contributors


> Looking at this article, there is no Author by-line,

It says "Gitonga Njeru in Nairobi" on the left side.

Here's the author: https://news.mongabay.com/by/gitonga-njeru/


What is incredibly difficult about being a journalist? It is the core of their job to read stuff and know better than the average how to make sense of things they read. Not "very difficult" by any measure, we are simply witnessing sheer laziness.

I provided four reasons as to why an average journalists job is difficult, and an entire paragraph as to why this particular journalists job might be difficult.

Also your description of a journalists "core" job is incredibly reductive. It would be like me saying a programmers job is to just "write code". It's accurate to a point, but fails to capture a majority of a programmers responsibilities and how they do it well.


You sound like the pointy-haired boss from Dilbert. "Anything I don't understand must be easy."

Yes, the Gell-Mann amnesia effect [1] needs to be made more widely known.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Crichton#GellMannAmnes...


What I want is a name for the related effect:

You read an article on your topic of expertise, it’s bullshit, you read another article, a relevant expert on it pipes up that “that’s bullshit!”, and the prevailing response is, “no, you’re wrong, I’ve read a bunch of articles on this topic.”

That is, the Gell-Mann effect as a justification for over-ruling expert criticism.


Brainwashed?

Yeah, but we've heard ad-nauseam about the Gell-Mann effect.

I wish there were an equally clever idiom I could trot out when people criticise professions they probably know noting about.

Journalism is an incredibly difficult field to work in, and journalism as a profession is just barely still a thing due to loss of advertising revenue to online platforms.

Think about it, we've traded a profession that has historically been one of the few to tell truth to power for free cloud software.

And we paid for our cloud software and for our and social media¹ skinner boxes, by voluntarily giving our own surveillance data to private non-acountable entities² which probably collude with the government, and which lose our data to organised crime a few times a year³.

To me that doesn't sound so clever.

1: A kind of casino with the doors welded shut where the chips are the precious minutes of our lives.

2: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Surveillance_capitalism. See also: https://privacysos.org/blog/nsa-calls-the-iphone-using-publi...

3: Equifax, yahoo data breaches just off the top of my head.


>> I wish there were an equally clever idiom I could trot out when people criticise professions they probably know noting about.

Isn't that "Pointy-Haired Boss syndrome"?



I though there was a word for that: arrogance, especially when mixed in with ignorance. I.e. that's both arrogant and ignorant. Not an idiom, but direct and clear. I'm afraid there's a trend of not calling things by their name because someone might take offense.

All journalism to the sufficiently informed looks like pathos. All journalism to the sufficiently uninformed looks like logos.

Yes.



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