Gene-Drive Technology Could Decimate Malaria-Carrying Mosquitoes–Scientists Use CRISPR to Modify the Insects’ Genes

J. Henry,  Tech Times,  2021.

Gene-drive technology can now suppress the growing numbers of mosquitoes that carry malaria. A group of researchers discovered that this gene-editing technique can eradicate the vectors that could rapidly populate in a particular environment. A mosquito (Anopheles albimanus) is prepared to be studied in a laboratory at the Center for Scientific Research Caucaseco in the outskirts of Cali, Colombia, on April 25, 2012, during the World Day for the fight against malaria. After Colombian physician Manuel Elkin Patarroyo developed a vaccine against malaria in 1986, Colombian scientists keep researching for another immunization for the illness, which in 2010 caused over 855.000 deaths all over the world. A team of 40 scientists is preparing to begin the second phase of chemical tests for a synthetic vaccine against malaria. Malaria is caused by the Plasmodium vivax and Plasmodium falcitarum parasites, and is transmitted by mosquitoes. In a study entitled “Gene-drive suppression of mosquito populations in large cages as a bridge between lab and field” published on Wednesday, July 28 on, scientists used genetic engineering to create a special class of mosquitoes that would exterminate those that carry malaria.According to the researchers, their main aim is to develop a weapon that would lessen or wipe out the malaria-spreading mosquitoes. Most importantly, they applied the DNA sequence called “gene drive” to the male mosquitoes. Ruth Muller, one of the researchers who is an entomologist at PoloGGB, said that what they did was a “big breakthrough” in science. Somehow, the scientists are also thinking of freeing the genetically modified mosquitoes someday, but it would take some time to ensure that it is applicable.

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