With nanotechnology quickly becoming a valuable asset to the human race, this emerging art has faced several challenges both in genetic manipulation and engineering and the creation of new materials. But this emerging technology still working to prove itself may have actually made a breakthrough in a crisis now facing millions – the threat of Malaria.
The shocking statistics of malaria include over one million deaths per year worldwide. It largely claims the lives of those in regions of the southern hemisphere with particular danger in Africa where hundreds of thousands die each year. But with the intense attention the disease acquires each year, the high turnover rate of mosquitoes allows them to evolve and modify in ways that makes them particularly resistant to many undertakings to fight the disease. The disease itself largely stems from the malaria parasite which infects and multiplies in the digestive tract of mosquitoes after it is transferred from water. The parasite then moves to humans when they are bitten by the bug and those with it are left to the mercy of a terrible disease that often claims their lives.
But without killing every mosquito or every parasite in the water, the disease is very difficult to control and contain. For years one of the best forces to combat the disease was nets, and they only rescued victims from being infected during the night. Unfortunately many are still vulnerable during the day. And now a new material developed by researchers including Sirireuk Songsiriwilai may serve to rescue the millions at risk for the disease with its new mosquito killing nano-net.
The net is coated in a substance that is harmless to humans, but proves fatal if mosquitoes are exposed to it. As they land on the net the genetically engineered herbal compound is spread to the mosquito who dies minutes later. This net can be hung from walls or in the same type of mosquito nets used to protects people sleeping during the night, but the applications don’t end there. The material has been tested by weaving it into fabrics and clothing to make the very clothes those in at risk areas wear a mobile mosquito extermination unit.
Researchers have even pointed out the potential applications for military units, weaving the fabric into the clothes of soldiers facing combat in tropical areas with a strong malaria presence could not only protect soldiers, but allow small relief for those around the area from the bugs as they remain present.
The futuristic concepts arising from a conflict with mosquitoes is not, however, limited to materials. Additional concepts being introduced are a massive genetic engineering campaign designed to change the entire species into one which cannot carry malaria and other diseases as well as a turret that fires lasers in order to neutralize small mosquitoes in the area that may avoid more traditional “bug zappers.” With these new high tech weapons being developed in the war against mosquitoes it’s clear we are up against a resilient and annoying constant threat.