New genetic modification could cut malaria spread

Staff Writers,  MALAYSIA NOW,  2021.

Altering a mosquito’s gut genes to make them spread antimalarial genes to the next generation of their species shows promise as an approach to curb malaria, suggests a preliminary study published in eLife on Tuesday. The study is the latest in a series of steps being taken toward using CRISPR-Cas9 gene-editing technology to make changes in mosquito genes that could reduce their ability to spread malaria. If further studies support this approach, it could provide a new way to reduce illnesses and deaths caused by malaria. Growing mosquito resistance to pesticides, as well as malaria parasite resistance to antimalarial drugs, has created an urgent need for new ways to fight the disease. Gene drives are being tested as a new approach. They work by creating genetically modified mosquitoes that, when released into the environment, would spread genes that either reduce mosquito populations or make the insects less likely to spread the malaria parasite.

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