Sterilizing Male Mosquitoes with Gene Editing to Reduce Disease Spread

Global Biodefense Staff,  Global Biodefense,  2021.

Researchers at the Army’s Institute for Collaborative Biotechnologies and the University of California Santa Barbara used a gene editing tool known as CRISPR-Cas9 to target a specific gene tied to fertility in male mosquitoes. Researchers experimented with the Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, which are found in tropical, subtropical and temperate regions throughout the world. The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, discerned how a mutation can suppress the fertility of female mosquitoes. To manage populations, scientists use a vector-control practice called the sterile insect technique in which they raise a lot of sterile male insects and they then release these males in numbers that overwhelm their wild counterparts. Females that mate with sterile males before finding a fertile one are themselves rendered infertile, thereby decreasing the size of the next generation. Repeating this technique several times has the potential to crash the population because each generation is smaller than the last; releasing a similar number of sterile males has a stronger effect over time.

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