Genetically Altered Mosquitos Could Wipe Out Malaria
Scientists have recently developed two ways to genetically alter the genes of mosquitos so that they could effectively wipe out malaria within one season. Two teams of biologists from the Irvine campus of the University of California have engineered a new breed of mosquito that carries two genetic modifications designed to eradicate malaria from the world.
The scientists first modified the genes in mosquitos carrying malaria so that one set of genes shoots malaria antibodies at the parasite, rendering the mosquito immune to the parasite and unable to spread the disease. The second modification, known as a gene drive, helps to spread the first gene throughout a population of mosquitos. When the genetically modified mosquitos are released into the wild, the modified males that mate with wild females send a copy of the gene drive, which spreads the new gene, as well as malaria resistant genes to the female.
Almost all the of next generation of mosquitos would carry this new gene that makes them resistant to malaria, meaning they would spread very rapidly and could take over a wild population within one mating season.
What do you know about malaria? Have you ever traveled to an area where malaria is a problem?