Malaria mosquitoes eliminated in lab by creating all male populations

H. Dunning,  Imperial College London,  2020.

A modification that creates more male offspring was able to eliminate populations of malaria mosquitoes in lab experiments.

A team led by Imperial College London spread a genetic modification that distorts the sex ratio through a population of caged Anopheles gambiae mosquitoes using ‘gene drive’ technology.

The team’s modification causes mosquitoes to produce more male offspring, eventually leading to no females being born and a total collapse in the population. This represents the first successful sex-distorter gene drive ever created, a goal for scientists as these modifications are expected to be extremely effective at controlling natural mosquito populations.

This study represents a key milestone in the long-sought objective to bias the progeny of the human malaria mosquito so that only non-biting males are produced.
Professor Andrea Crisanti

There were 228 million cases of malaria in 2018, and 405,000 deaths, with new interventions needed to move towards malaria eradication. There are around 3500 species of mosquito worldwide, of which only 40 related species can carry malaria. The team’s modification was applied to Anopheles gambiae mosquitoes, the main malaria vector in sub-Saharan Africa.


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