Malaria and the future of mosquito control

E. Gonzalez Fernandez,  CATALYST,  2021.

Focusing on mosquito population control, new strategies based on genetic approaches have emerged with the premise of being more eco-friendly. The aim is to not harm the environment or affect other animals since they will only target a specific mosquito species. Genetic control strategies depend on the introduction of an inheritable trait into the wild type population. There are two main outcomes, the suppression, or the replacement of the insect population. In the first one, the new trait leads to a reduction of their population. In the second one, the existing mosquito population is replaced with mosquitoes that have the new characteristic, making the mosquito, for example, unable to transmit the pathogen (refractoriness), the latter doesn’t reduce the number of mosquitoes in the area. The discovery of CRISPR/Cas9, recently awarded the Nobel Prize, has opened an incredible path in genetics and is the fundamental pillar for the new strategies under development for mosquito control. Specifically, the so-called gene drive systems benefit from the CRISPR/Cas9 technology. These gene drive systems aim to spread the new trait into the population in a super-Mendelian way. It means that the gene drive encourages unbalanced inheritance in favour of the new trait, so the new trait is passed on to off-spring so the new would make the ‘old’ disappear in a short period of time. And, as previously mentioned, these could be by reducing or replacing

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