Self-Deleting Genes Could Control Mosquitoes And Prevent Vector-Borne Diseases

A. Russell,  Texas AM TODAY,  2022.

Texas A&M AgriLife Research scientists are testing a technology to make temporary genetic modifications in mosquitoes that self-delete over time. The mechanism to make temporary genetic changes could be important for scientists hoping to modify mosquitoes in ways that help manage populations and prevent vector-borne diseases like West Nile virus without permanently altering wild populations’ genetic makeup. An article detailing their test results is published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences’ PNAS Nexus. The authors, Zach Adelman and Kevin Myles, both professors in the Texas A&M University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Department of Entomology, describe a method for programming the removal of edited genes within populations of mosquitoes over multiple generations. The method is a first step toward building safeguards for genetic modifications developed to control populations of mosquitoes and the vector-borne diseases they carry. The idea is to test proposed changes without making the changes permanent and without the risk of transmitting them to wild populations, Adelman said.

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