Bart Knols on Cheese, Dogs and a Pill to Kill Mosquitoes and End Malaria (Transcript)

And so we set up another crazy experiment, because we collected the smell of these larvae, put it on pieces of cloth, and then did something very remarkable. Here we have a bar with four holes, and we put the smell of these larvae in the left hole. Ooh, that was very quick. And then you see the dog. It’s called Tweed. It’s a border collie. He’s examining these holes, and now he’s got it already. He’s going back to check the control holes again, but he’s coming back to the first one, and now he’s locking into that smell, which means that now we can use dogs with these inspectors to much better find the breeding sites of mosquitoes in the field, and therefore have a much bigger impact on malaria.

This lady is Ellen van der Zweep. She’s one of the best dog-trainers in the world, and she believes that we can do a lot more. Since we also know that people that carry malaria parasites smell different compared to people that are uninfected, she’s convinced that we can train dogs to find people that carry the parasite. That means that in a population where malaria has gone down all the way, and there’s few people remaining with parasites, that the dogs can find these people, we can treat them with anti-malarial drugs, and give the final blow to malaria. Man’s best friend in the fight against malaria.

My third story is perhaps even more remarkable, and I should say, has never been shown to the public until today. Yeah. It’s a crazy story, but I believe it’s perhaps the best and ultimate revenge against mosquitoes ever. In fact, people have told me that now they will enjoy being bitten by mosquitoes. And the question of course is, what would make someone enjoy being bitten by mosquitoes? And the answer I have right here in my pocket, if I get it. It’s a tablet, a simple tablet, and when I take it with water, it does miracles. Thank you.

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(Drinking)

Now let me show you how this works. Here in this box I have a cage with several hundred hungry female mosquitoes that I’m just about to release. Just kidding, just kidding. What I’m going to show you is I’m going to stick my arm into it and I will show you how quickly they will bite. Here we go. Don’t worry, I do this all the time in the lab. There we go. Okay.

Now, on the video, on the video here, I’m going to show you exactly the same thing, except that what I’m showing you on the video happened one hour after I took the tablet.  Have a look. That doesn’t work. Okay. Sorry about that. I’m sticking in my arm, I’m giving them a big juicy blood meal, I’m shaking them off, and we follow them through time to see these mosquitoes get very, very sick indeed, here shown in fast motion, and three hours later what we see at the bottom of the cage is dead mosquitoes, very dead mosquitoes, and I’m going to say, ladies and gentlemen, we have swapped the cards with mosquitoes. They don’t kill us. We kill them.

Now, Maastricht, be prepared. Now think of what we can do with this. We can actually use this to contain outbreaks of mosquito-born diseases, of epidemics, right? And better still, imagine what would happen if, in a very large area, everyone would take these drugs, this drug, for just three weeks. That would give us an opportunity to actually eliminate malaria as a disease.

So cheese, dogs and a pill to kill mosquitoes. That’s the kind of out-of-the-box science that I love doing, for the betterment of mankind, but especially for her, so that she can grow up in a world without malaria. Thank you.

 

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