Scientists release sterile mosquitoes in Burkina to fight malaria

T. Ndiaga,  Reuters,  2019.

Scientists in Burkina Faso have deployed a new weapon in the fight against malaria, and waded into a thorny bioethics debate, by letting loose thousands of genetically sterilized mosquitoes.Their experiment is the first outside the lab to release genetically altered mosquitoes in the hope of reducing their ability to spread the often deadly disease. It works using a technique called a gene drive, which edits and then propagates a gene in a population – in this case to prevent males from producing offspring. Investments in anti-malarial drugs, mosquito nets and insecticides have slowed malaria over the past two decades in Africa, which accounts for more than 90% of global cases. But malaria still killed more than 400,000 people across the continent in 2017, and the World Health Organization says progress against the disease is stalling, leading researchers to push for fresh approaches.

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