Developing a Malaria Mosquito Trap

Malaria is one of the deadliest diseases worldwide. Etiological agent of Malaria is the unicellular parasite Plasmodium falciparum, which is spread by mosquitoes of the Anopheles genus. Malaria is present in all regions of the world in which warm, tropical climates are present throughout the year. Since most affected regions are in developing countries, treatment and prevention are difficult to maintain at a sufficient level. To eliminate malaria is a major challenge of our century. Drugs targeting Plasmodium are expensive and ineffective. Therefore, disruption of the infection chain by combating mosquitoes is the most feasible and widespread strategy in malaria prevention. Methods aimed towards preventing mosquitoes to sting humans range from simple but fragile and ineffective mosquito nets, toxic insecticide sprays, and traps to heavily invasive and controversial methods like emerging gene drive technology. Since neither a single, nor any possible combination of available methods was successful in combating malaria, additional approaches complementing existing endeavours are required. Especially simple technologies fit for use and demanding low maintenance in developing regions without trained personnel or high tech equipment offer a chance to effectively combat malaria onset. A promising approach is manipulation of Anopheles to attract or repel it precisely using small volatile molecules.
At iGEM Hamburg, we are developing a trap to lure and kill mosquitoes. We employ microbial metabolites like emitted by our skin microbiota to attract mosquitoes to the trap. The trap contains an insecticide to kill attracted mosquitoes, thus disabling them from transferring malaria. An additional application using volatile repellents aims to keep mosquitoes away from populated areas in order to prevent transmittance of the disease. Strong 3D printed hardware ensures feasibility in rough tropical environ-ments, and nano applications for surface modifications render the trap resistant to dust and water.
Dealing with malaria, we are working on a severe issue affecting hundreds of millions of people every year. We want to make an impact on humanity’s fight against malaria, and are open for suggestions and help wherever it may come from. We are involved in extensive Human Practices dealing with field feasibility, international technological and regulatory demands, and biosafety, and welcome every opinion of experts and people affected or with experience in malaria treatment, combat or prevention.
This way we hope to prevent the cause of Malaria and especially help those in desperate need of a so-lution. Therefore we not only address a scientific but also a highly social, humanitarian and medical crisis.

Call for Cooperation

iGEM Hamburg is an interdisciplinary team composed of molecular biologists, chemists, nano scientists and engineers. We have extensive experience in circuit design, chemical synthesis, nano engineering and 3D design. If any of our skills, or parts of our projects could be of value for you, please feel free to contact us. We are looking for teams to help us, too. To round off our project, we are looking for experts in kinetic modelling, teams with access to experts in malaria and mosquito research, and Human Practices cooperation partners in malaria risk areas. Feel free to contact us via Social Media or send us an email. We cannot wait to see what you bring to our project!