The Promise and Challenge of Genetic Biocontrol Approaches for Malaria Elimination

S. James and M. Santos,  Tropical Medicine and Infectious Disease,  2023.

Malaria remains an ongoing public health challenge, with over 600,000 deaths in 2021, of which approximately 96% occurred in Africa. Despite concerted efforts, the goal of global malaria elimination has stalled in recent years. This has resulted in widespread calls for new control methods. Genetic biocontrol approaches, including those focused on gene-drive-modified mosquitoes (GDMMs), aim to prevent malaria transmission by either reducing the population size of malaria transmitting mosquitoes or making the mosquitoes less competent to transmit the malaria parasite. The development of both strategies has advanced considerably in recent years, with successful field trials of several biocontrol methods employing live mosquito products and demonstration of the efficacy of GDMMs in insectary-based studies. Live mosquito biocontrol products aim to achieve area-wide control with characteristics that differ substantially from current insecticide-based vector control methods, resulting in some different considerations for approval and implementation. The successful field application of current biocontrol technologies against other pests provides evidence for the promise of these approaches and insights into the development pathway for new malaria control agents. The status of technical development as well as current thinking on the implementation requirements for genetic biocontrol approaches are reviewed, and remaining challenges for public health application in malaria prevention are discussed.

More related to this: