Getting bit by a mosquito could potentially lead to a wide variety of infections – dengue, yellow fever, Zika, malaria, etc. The usual method to try to prevent the spread of these diseases is vaccination, but this is hindered in most of these diseases due to the various sub-types and strain variations. But what if there was another way? That is what Jessica Manning and colleagues are looking into – developing a vaccine against mosquito saliva. When a mosquito bites a person, it first injects its saliva into the blood stream before drinking blood, which triggers the person’s innate immune response. This immune response can then inadvertently help spread any pathogens through the lymphatic system. However, the authors hypothesise that by vaccinating a person against the saliva itself then the body will have a different, targeted immune response, which can hopefully destroy the pathogens before they spread and cause infection. A proof of principle has already been shown in animals that have been vaccinated against sand fly saliva, which prevents infection by Leishmania.
Although there is still a long way to go, it is an interesting approach that should be closely monitored.
— Peter Chilton, Research Fellow
- Manning JE, Morens DM, Kamhawi S, Valenzuela JG, Memoli M. Mosquito Saliva: The Hope for a Universal Arbovirus Vaccine? J Infect Dis. 2018; 218 (1): 7-15.