Preparing an Insectary in Burkina Faso to Support Research in Genetic Technologies for Malaria Control

C. Guissou, M. M. Quinlan, R. Sanou, R. K. Ouédraogo, M. Namountougou and A. Diabaté,  Vector-Borne and Zoonotic Diseases,  2022.

The Institut de Recherche en Sciences de la Santé (IRSS) of Burkina Faso, West Africa, was the first African institution to import transgenic mosquitoes for research purposes. A shift from the culture of mosquito research to regulated biotechnology research and considerable management capacity is needed to set up and run the first insectary for transgenic insects in a country that applied and adapted the existing biosafety framework, first developed for genetically modified (GM) crops, to this new area of research. The additional demands arise from the separate regulatory framework for biotechnology, referencing the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, and the novelty of the research strain, making public understanding and acceptance early in the research pathway important. The IRSS team carried out extensive preparations following recommendations for containment of GM arthropods and invested efforts in local community engagement and training with scientific colleagues throughout the region. Record keeping beyond routine practice was established to maintain evidence related to regulatory requirements and risk assumptions. The National Biosafety Agency of Burkina Faso, Agence Nationale de Biosécurité (ANB), granted the permits for import of the self-limiting transgenic mosquito strain, which took place in November 2016, and for conducting studies in the IRSS facility in Bobo-Dioulasso. Compliance with permit terms and conditions of the permits and study protocols continued until the conclusion of studies, when the transgenic colonies were terminated. All this required close coordination between management and the insectary teams, as well as others. This article outlines the experiences of the IRSS to support others undertaking such studies. The IRSS is contributing to the ongoing development of genetic technologies for malaria control, as a partner of Target Malaria ( The ultimate objective of the innovation is to reduce malaria transmission by using GM mosquitoes of the same species released to reduce the disease-vectoring native populations of Anopheles gambiae s.l.

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