The secure insectary was built in 2010 at SMRU to study the interaction between mosquitoes and malaria parasites along the Thailand-Myanmar border. It hosts three mosquito colonies: two belonging to the Dirus family, An. cracens and An. scanloni and one colony of An. minimus; all susceptible to malaria parasites.
The main research studies focus on:
- Infection of mosquitoes with patients’ infected blood to produce Plasmodium vivax sporozoites to support liver stages research in order to screen drugs capable of eradicating the relapsing stages of P. vivax malaria.
- Anopheles infections to test the susceptibility of mosquitoes to Plasmodia.
- Infection of mosquitoes with in vitro cultured gametocytes for the “Tracking Resistance to Artemisinin Collaboration” (TRAC 2 study) in order to investigate the susceptibility of resistant strains to Asian and African mosquitos’ species.
- Detection of Plasmodia gametocytes in patients’ blood using a qRT-PCR assay.
- Studying the dynamics of malaria transmission in mosquitoes on the Thailand-Myanmar border following targeted malaria elimination through mosquitos’ collection in the field and malaria detection.
- Repellent studies.
The secure insectary consists of four rooms: one contains incubators for infected mosquitos and a blood feeding area, two temperature and humidity controlled rooms for mosquitos’ colonies and one microscopy area for dissection and analysis. In 2015 another insectary was built in order to expand the original colonies: two rooms are temperature and humidity controlled and one room is dedicated to mosquito identification and repellent studies.
The insectaries are run by an amazing lab technician, two fantastic lab assistants and one funny research scientist.