Why not use the self-sustaining Wolbachia approach to eliminate malaria in Africa?
The World Mosquito Program developed a unique strain of Aedes aegypti mosquito that is infected with the intracellular bacterium Wolbachia and this infection is transmitted from parent to progeny. Wolbachia-containing mosquitoes are much less capable of transmitting dengue and other mosquito-borne viruses. The World Mosquito Program product demonstrated significant reduction of dengue transmission in an extensive clinical trial conducted in Indonesia.
Research is underway to understand whether naturally-occurring microbes, including Wolbachia, in Anopheles mosquitoes could cause refractoriness to malaria parasites that would prevent disease transmission. Importantly, however, Wolbachia-based technologies would require larger numbers and more releases of Wolbachia-infected mosquitoes than self-sustaining and some self-limiting gene drive technologies. This might present operational and logistic limitations for the use of technologies based on Wolbachia or other symbionts against malaria across the range of conditions found in Africa.
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