Gene tweak kills whole population of malaria-carrying mosquitoes

Scientists have killed a whole population of malaria-carrying mosquitoes in their lab by using modified genes of which make the killer insects infertile.

Researchers at London’s Imperial College used “gene drive” technology to spread a genetic modification of which blocks female reproduction while letting male mosquitoes continue to spread those altered genes.

The results, published Monday from the journal Nature Biotechnology, represent once gene drive has completely suppressed a population, according to an article coming from Imperial College.

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The team crashed populations of the Anopheles gambiae mosquito, which transmits malaria in sub-Saharan Africa, within 11 generations. There are around 3,500 species of mosquito worldwide, of which 40 can carry malaria, the article reported.

In 2016, according to the earth Health Organization, there were around 216 million malaria cases along with an estimated 445,000 deaths worldwide, mostly of children under a few years old.

“This specific breakthrough shows of which gene drive can work, providing trust from the fight against a disease of which has plagued mankind for centuries,” Andrea Crisanti, a life sciences professor who led the team, told the college.

“of which will still be at least 5-10 years before we consider testing any mosquitoes with gene drive from the wild,” he added, “nevertheless currently we have some encouraging proof of which we’re on the right path.

“Gene drive solutions possess the potential one day to expedite malaria eradication by overcoming the barriers of logistics in resource-poor countries.”

The team targeted a gene from the mosquitoes called “doublesex” of which determines whether a mosquito develops as a male or as a female, the college reported.

Males of which carried the modified gene showed no adjustments, as did some females; however, many females displayed both male along with female characteristics, failed to bite along with did not lay eggs.

After about eight generations, no further females were produced along with the populations collapsed because of lack of offspring.

The next step will be to test the technology in a laboratory setting of which mimics a tropical environment, Crisanti said.

“of which will be at least a few-to-ten years before we consider testing any mosquitoes with gene drive from the wild,” he added.

According to the Agence France Press news agency, the lead funder of the research was the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which has poured close to $100 million into the development of gene drive technology — especially via the research consortium Target Malaria — with the aim of eradicating the disease.

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