Africa Turning to Gene Drive Technology for Malaria Elimination

M. Hearty,  Science Africa,  2021.

With Africa accounting for nine out of ten malaria cases globally, the continent is turning to gene drive technology to control the disease. This is according to a decision made by African leaders at the 29th Summit of Heads of States and Governments of the African Union held in Addis Ababa. There are 3500 to 4000 mosquito species worldwide and 837 of the species are in Africa, with only 3 species transmitting malaria in sub-Saharan Africa. Speaking during a virtual conference by the African Union Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD) , Dr Abdoulaye Diabate, Head of Medical Entomology and Parasitology at the Research Institute in health Sciences in Burkina Faso who presented on Gene Drive for Malaria Control and Elimination in Africa said that two options for genetic control of mosquito-borne infectious diseases identified were population suppression and population replacement. “Population suppression involves releasing of modified mosquitoes into the population, and this can cause transient or permanent suppression. With the population replacement method, modified mosquitoes released into the population can lead to the spread of a gene that blocks malaria transmission,” the Medical Entomologist stated.

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