Scientists managed to eradicate an area of malaria-transmitting mosquitoes by using genetic engineering to make the females infertile, in what the lead researcher referred to as the “game-changer in bringing about malaria elimination.”
A team of researchers, under the leadership of scientists from the Imperial Faculty London, Italy’s Polo Genomics Genetics and Biology, and the Liverpool Faculty of Tropical medication, relied on the “gene drive” know-how as a starting point for the study, which was made public in Nature Communications.
Andrew Hammond, a molecular biologist of the Imperial Faculty London, said in an interview with the Guardian:
“Gene drive is a self-sustaining and fast-acting know-how that may work alongside current instruments resembling mattress nets, pesticides and vaccines — and might be a game-changer in bringing about malaria elimination.”
The method may help select mosquitos with a specific trait, namely infertility, to keep spreading it in future generations (if they somehow manage to produce offspring). That method would help solve the problem a lot faster than the common selective breeding, according to the outlet.
However, on top of bringing extra hope in the fight against malaria, the research lays the basis for self-destroying mosquitos that will be set free in the wild in a matter of 10 years.
Thomas Worth, a senior lecturer in the evolution, ecology and conduct of the College of Liverpool, said that this might be a very thrilling improvement, as he sees it as a big step in the direction of reaching the ultimate goal.
According to the researchers, the concept of “gene-drive” technology was initially explored eighteen years ago.
However, the solution may be many years away from being put to use. Worth mentioned that “there are nonetheless tons of moral and regulatory questions” that need to be answered.