Malaria-carrying mosquitoes could be bred out of existence using ‘gene drive’ technology

A. Wilkins,  METRO,  2021.

Malaria-carrying mosquitoes have been eliminated using ‘gene drive’ technology in a nature-like environment, in a world-first study. By altering a gene that blocks female mosquito reproduction, and allowing that gene to spread, researchers found they could ensure complete mosquito population collapse within one year of the experiment’s start. It’s the first time so-called ‘gene drive’ technology has been shown to be effective in challenging ecological conditions over a long time scale. The results of the study, published in Nature Communications today, could be a key tool in battling the hundreds of millions of cases of malaria infections that happen each year. ‘The challenges facing malaria elimination have intensified in recent years, due in part to the spread of insecticide resistance and large gaps in funding for parts of sub-Saharan Africa,’ said co-lead author of the study Dr. Drew Hammond. ‘Sadly, researchers estimate that Covid-19 related disruptions may have doubled mortality from malaria in 2020, threatening a setback of several decades. ‘Gene drive is a self-sustaining and fast acting technology that can work alongside existing tools such as bed nets, insecticides and vaccines – and could be a game-changer in bringing about malaria elimination.’

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