How An Altered Strand Of DNA Can Cause Malaria-Spreading Mosquitoes To Self-Destruct

R. Stein,  NPR,  2021.

For the first time, scientists have shown that a new kind of genetic engineering can crash populations of malaria-spreading mosquitoes. In the landmark study, published Wednesday in the journal Nature Communications, researchers placed the genetically modified mosquitoes in a special laboratory that simulated the conditions in sub-Saharan Africa, where they spread the deadly disease.  The male mosquitoes were engineered with a sequence of DNA known as a “gene drive” that can rapidly transmit a deleterious mutation that essentially wipes out populations of the insects.  The goal is to create a powerful new tool to fight malaria, which remains one of the world’s most terrible scourges.  “Our study is the first [that] could show that gene-drive technology works under ecologically challenging conditions,” says Ruth Muller, an entomologist who led the research at PoloGGB, a high-security lab in Terni, Italy. “This is the big breakthrough that we made with our study.”

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