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Have scientists managed to wipe out malaria?

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
6/11/2014 (2 years ago)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Genetically modified mosquitoes breed only males

A new technological advancement may pave the way in the fight to eradicate malaria.

Scientists may have discovered a method in which the particular strain of mosquito which spread Malaria may be eradicated.

Scientists may have discovered a method in which the particular strain of mosquito which spread Malaria may be eradicated.

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
6/11/2014 (2 years ago)

Published in Technology

Keywords: News, Science, Technology


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - A new method of genetically modifying mosquitoes is potentially offering a new path towards fighting the deadly disease, which affects 219 million people and kills between 660,000 and 1.2 million people, most of whom are children in Africa.

A single donation can help a child who suffers from this terrible disease.

This breakthrough comes from researchers from the Imperial College London who have tested a method that distorts the sex ratio of Anopheles gambiae mosquitoes-the main transmitters of the malaria parasite-so that the female mosquitoes who bite and pass the disease to humans can no longer be produced.

The study, published in the journal Nature Communications, reported that the team created a fully fertile mosquito strain that produced 95% male offspring in laboratory tests.

Andrea Crisanti, who lead the research at Imperial's department of life sciences, was pleased with the results. "For the very first time, we have been able to inhibit the production of female offspring in the laboratory and this provides a new means to eliminate the disease."

Nikolai Windbichler, who co-led the work, said that most promising part of the study is the fact that the results are self-sustaining.

"Once modified mosquitoes are introduced, males will start to produce mainly sons, and their sons will do the same, so essentially the mosquitoes carry out the work for us," he said.

Over the six years of experimenters, scientists inserted a DNA cutting enzyme called I-Ppol into Anophles gambia mosquitoes. I-Ppol works by cutting the DNA of the female-producing X chromosome during production of sperm, so there is almost no functioning sperm to carry it. The result is that the offspring of these modified mosquitoes are nearly all male.

These experiments involved introducing the genetically modified mosquitoes into five caged, wild-type mosquito populations. Four of the five populations had their entire population eliminated in six generation due to the lack of females.

Some experts not directly involved in these experiments were impressed with the results, and enthusiastic about its potential.

"This is super cool work," said Michael Bonsall, a reader in zoology at Britain's University of Oxford. "Reducing mating potential of mosquitoes by modifying sperm is a population suppression technology. It will be very exciting to see how this. is now taken forward."

It is truly a great day when such a dreadful disease as Malaria may be eradicated. However, there are still millions affected by this disease. Just one donation can give medicine to a child suffering from this terrible illness.

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