Generation game: gene-edited mosquitos to fight malaria

J. Opara,  Sci Dev Net,  2023.

Population-level changes in the genetic make-up of one of the world’s deadliest animals could provide a key in the fight against malaria, proponents of a radical new technology argue. So-called gene drive technology, where genetic changes are passed down through generations, could rein in mosquito populations, or prevent them from passing on malaria.“Through genetic engineering, researchers have modified mosquitoes to favour the inheritance of genes that either will reduce the size of the population of those mosquitoes or stop them from transmitting the malaria parasite,” Michael Santos, senior vice-president and chief population health sciences officer at the US-based charity the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health (FNIH), tells SciDev.Net. “In other words, [it is about] using mosquitoes to control mosquitoes.” Malaria is one of the world’s “big three” deadly diseases, killing over half a million people in 2021, the vast majority in Africa.

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