Monday, August 2, 2021

Genetic Engineering Can Suppress Population of Malaria-Transmitting Mosquitoes


    Recent studies and discoveries have allowed scientists to use genetic engineering in order to make female malaria-transmitting mosquitoes infertile, and therefore suppressing the population of these mosquitoes around the world. The lead researcher for this experiment calls it a “game-changer in bringing about malaria elimination”. This study, conducted at Imperial College London, Italy’s Polo Genomics Genetics and Biology, and the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, used “gene drive” technology for this study, which is a self-sustaining and fast-acting technology that can work simultaneously with other tools such as bed nets, vaccines, and insecticides. Using this type of technology, scientists are able to circumvent natural selection by inserting genetic instructions that are passed on through populations of mosquitoes, and in this particular case, that instruction is for infertility. This process is much quicker than if performed through regular selective breeding. This study also maps out the future effects of what can happen within 10 years of these self-destructive mosquitoes being released into the wild. “Gene drive” technology has been explored since 2003, but hit a bump in the road when researchers discovered that their gene drives vanished after a few generations due to mutations. This study identified a crucial sex determination gene, however, that is identical among these mosquitoes that are responsible for most of the malaria transmission in sub-Saharan Africa. The release of this gene drive into the population of malaria-transmitting mosquitoes can suppress the population size and potentially even rid the world of these mosquitoes.

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1 comment:

  1. I found your post interesting! Eliminating malaria by eliminating mosquitoes through genetic engineering is a way to eradicate the disease. However, although your post only mentions killing malaria-transmitting mosquitoes, I hope this practice will not spread to other mosquitoes. I do not think it’s a good idea to get rid of all mosquitoes, as doing so could drastically disrupt the food chain of different ecosystems.