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Science & Technology

Mutant mosquitoes could wipe out malaria

By T.K. Randall
February 18, 2019 · Comment icon 6 comments



Could genetic modification be the key ? Image Credit: CC BY-SA 3.0 JJ Harrison
Two geneticists have been working on a plan to use genetic modification to stop the disease from spreading.
Responsible for 435,000 deaths in 2017 alone, malaria - a disease that is primarily spread by infected mosquitoes - remains a major problem in the tropical and subtropical regions of the world.

Efforts to develop an effective vaccine have been ongoing for years, but now two researchers - Austin Burt and Andrea Crisanti - are aiming to take things one step further by releasing genetically modified mosquitoes in to the wild to render the infected female insects sterile.

The idea, which has already been in development for 15 years, is certainly drastic, however if it works it could have the potential to save hundreds of thousands of human lives each year.

"I hope to see it in my lifetime," said Crisanti. "I think the only thing that we need is to show its effectiveness in a small, isolated proof of principle example."
"And then I think everybody will want to use it."

But is using genetic modification to wipe out entire insect populations really a good idea ?

"It's a GMO (genetically modified organism) technology," said Crisanti. "It's a GMO technology that spreads. It's a GMO technology that reprograms sex."

Some groups, such as Friends of the Earth, have called for a moratorium on such techniques.

As things stand however, the method may not be ready to go for at least another 15 years.

Source: Wired | Comments (6)


Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by Jon the frog 4 years ago
Hummmm.... good idea to get rid of malaria, bad idea to release gmo in the wild. Wiping out a species will influence the food chain too.
Comment icon #2 Posted by kobolds 4 years ago
typo ? should the title be "Mutant mosquitoes could wipe out human"
Comment icon #3 Posted by EnderOTD 4 years ago
I can see it already. Save the mosquito!!! We?re encroaching on their habitat, if they would have left the poor mosquito alone none of this would happen. But seriously, this has the hallmarks of a zombie apocalypse snowball scenario, or a man made disaster waiting to happen. Genetically modifying a parasitic organism to kill itself, our ego and hubris will be our downfall.
Comment icon #4 Posted by moonman 4 years ago
Usually I'm ok with genetic mods, but this is a stupid idea. There's no way to control the spread of it, if you wipe out all the mosquitos it will cause the food chain to collapse.
Comment icon #5 Posted by openozy 4 years ago
Diseases are here to keep populations down by taking out the weak and creating stronger survivers and improving different species.One reason humans are becoming sickly with weak immune systems is we are being molleycoddled and its not helping humanity in the long term.
Comment icon #6 Posted by Jon the frog 4 years ago
110 years ago, one man set out to rid Texas of Malaria - with the help of what was then a very unlikely source... bats! Dr. Charles A. Campbell had a simple plan. He knew that bats eat mosquitoes, and believed that if he could entice thousands of bats to live in Malaria-ridden areas, they would single-wingedly eradicate the disease. After years of fruitless experimentation with small roosting boxes, he decided to go BIG, with a 30-foot tower containing roosting shelves, guano lures, and a meal plan - three large hams! The $500 contraption was, alas, a flop. Campbell realized that he didnít und... [More]


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