Mosquitoes Sterilized by CRISPR Powered Precision System

A. A. Sarkar,  Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News,  2021.

Each year millions around the world are infected by dengue, chikungunya, and Zika viruses. The principal culprit behind the transmission of these deadly diseases is the mosquito vector, Aedes aegypti. Conventional methods of pest control have so far fallen short. To curb the spread of A. aegypti, researchers at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), have now developed a CRISPR-based molecular genetic control system called precision-guided sterile insect technique (pgSIT) that alters insect genes to generate flightless female and sterile male mosquitoes. The pgSIT system can be deployed effectively at any stage in the life cycle of the mosquito. The authors used mathematical models to empirically demonstrate that once released, male A. aegypti mosquitoes sterilized using the pgSIT system can compete, suppress, and eliminate fertile mosquito populations in the wild. The pgSIT system is not limited to restricting mosquito populations, it can be adapted to different vectors to curb transmissible diseases in a safe, confinable, and reversible manner, the authors claim. These findings are reported in the Nature Communications article, “Suppressing mosquito populations with precision guided sterile males.”

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