Is Gene Editing the Answer to Eradicating Malaria in Africa?

Staff,  ASH Clinical News,  2020.

Now, researchers are looking at a new technique to eradicate malaria: Engineering mosquitoes with a “gene drive” – a gene that when inserted into mosquitoes (or other organisms) will be passed on to nearly 100% of the offspring in the next generation, rather than just half the offspring – that rapidly spreads a mutation that removes the insects’ ability to spread the malaria-causing parasite. This is still an investigational technique and one that has generated controversy.

“We have not yet reached the stage where we can release the gene-drive mosquitoes into the population,” Charles Mbogo, PhD, Founder and President of the Pan African Mosquito Control Association (PAMCA), told ASH Clinical News. “But there are several other approaches, such as the sterile insect technique, that have been used in agriculture for many, many years and worked very well.”

ASH Clinical News spoke with Drs. James and Mbogo, as well as other scientists working in the field of infectious disease and gene editing, about innovative – and controversial – efforts to control this bloodborne parasitic disease.

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