CRISPR may help curb malaria by altering a mosquito’s gut genes, new study suggests

Cornell Alliance for Science,  Genetic Literacy Project,  2021.

Altering a mosquito’s gut genes to make them spread antimalarial genes to the next generation of their species shows promise as an approach to curb malaria, suggests a preliminary study published in eLife.
The study is the latest in a series of steps toward using CRISPR-Cas9 gene-editing technology to make changes in mosquito genes that could reduce their ability to spread malaria. If further studies support this approach, it could provide a new way to reduce illnesses and deaths caused by malaria. Mosquito are becoming increasingly resistance to insecticides and malaria parasites are gaining resistance to antimalarial drugs, creating an urgent need for new ways to fight the disease. Gene drives are being tested as a new approach to controlling mosquitoes, locusts and other insects. They work by creating genetically modified mosquitoes that, when released into the environment, mate with wild insects. The offspring contain genes that either reduce mosquito populations or make the insects less likely to spread the malaria parasite. But scientists must prove that this approach is safe and effective before releasing gene drive mosquitoes into the wild.

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