Genetically modified mosquitoes could one day end malaria

Alexis Akwagyiram,  Semafor,  2024.

Abdoulaye Diabaté, a scientist from Burkina Faso, is at the vanguard of efforts to eliminate malaria by editing the genetic makeup of male mosquitoes and releasing them in the wild to prevent the reproduction of female mosquito species that transmit malaria. The technique is known as “gene drive” technology. Malaria kills more than 600,000 people every year, most of whom are children in Africa.

Research by Diabaté, who heads medical entomology and parasitology at Burkina Faso’s Research Institute in Health Sciences, earned him the 2023 Falling Walls Prize for Science and Innovation Management. He spoke to Semafor Africa ahead of a Ted Talk on ending malaria. Gene drive offers great promises as a vector control tool. The fact that it is self-sustaining, meaning that a relatively small release of modified mosquitoes are able to spread within a population and induce suppression. It allows targeting a large area in a cost effective and self-sustaining manner, reaching areas that are difficult to control with conventional methods.

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