CRISPR Technology Can Eliminate Disease-Spreading Mosquitoes

S. Krishana,  Now,  2022.

Scientists have uncovered a new technique they call the “precision-guided sterile insect technique,” or pgSIT. While most CRISPR procedures affect organisms that spread diseases by passing a gene change down generations, this system is more limited. It targets male mosquito genes that are linked to fertility. As a result of changing these genes, any offspring these mosquitoes have would be infertile. “pgSIT is a new scalable genetic control system that uses a CRISPR-based approach to engineer deployable mosquitoes that can suppress populations,” said Omar Akbari, one of the study’s authors. “Males don’t transmit diseases, so the idea is that, as you release more and more sterile males, you can suppress the population without relying on harmful chemicals and insecticides.” But it’s the female population that spreads diseases, so pgSIT targets them, as well. According to the study, the CRISPR technology treatment renders female mosquitoes unable to fly or hold their wings up. It also makes them slower and more lethargic in their movements. Combined, these effects lower the chances that these female mosquitoes will mate or successfully find a blood source and attach to it to spread disease.

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