UC Scientists Create Malaria-Blocking Mosquito Strain

Posted: Nov 24 2015, 7:02am CST | by , Updated: Nov 24 2015, 7:03am CST, in News | Latest Science News


UC Scientists Create Malaria-Blocking Mosquito Strain
University of California scientists have created a strain of mosquitoes using a groundbreaking gene editing technique. These mosquitoes capable of rapidly introducing malaria-blocking genes into a mosquito population through its progeny, ultimately eliminating the insects’ ability to transmit the disease to humans. Credit: Jim Gathany / CDC
  • An Anopheles stephensi mosquito obtains a blood meal from a human host through its pointed proboscis. A known malarial vector, the species can found from Egypt to China.

Researchers have succeeded in making such mosquitoes which repel the disease known as malaria. This is a milestone in genetic engineering alright.

Via a novel gene-editing technique, scientists at the University of California have created a series of mosquitoes.  These special mosquitoes have the ability to block malaria propagation in other mosquitoes.

The malaria-blocking genes will prevent all the other mosquitoes from spreading the disease among human beings and animals. This would be a boon for humankind. The advance in disease amelioration could spell the end of the scourge of malaria as we know it.  

Malaria causes sickness among millions worldwide each year. The scientists inserted a gene into the Anopheles stephensi mosquito. This caused an anti-malarial effect which was exploited for the benefit of human beings who were susceptible to the disease everywhere.

And the gene canceling malaria got transferred to 99.5% of the progency of the mosquitoes whose DNA got edited on a genetic level. Anopheles stephensi is a major vector that spreads malaria in all of Asia.

The gene editing methodology is termed CRISPR. It allows access to the nucleus of a cell which in turn leads to a snipping of DNA and mutation of the genes. These actions are performed all the better to eradicate disease and increase abundance and prosperity in human beings. 

The findings of this study appear this week in the early online edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“This opens up the real promise that this technique can be adapted for eliminating malaria,” said Anthony James, Distinguished Professor of molecular biology & biochemistry and microbiology and molecular genetics at UC Irvine.

It has been two decades since the genetic engineering of anti-malarial mosquitoes has been extant. Now finally the fruits of the tireless labor of the experts have appeared.

Work of a similar nature has occurred in the past with reference to mice and fruit flies. The generation of mutations in genes is what the method is all about. It is very delicate work but the good thing is it pays off in the end. 

And the inheritance rate in the offspring is so high that it is a virtual certainty that the malarial factor will be eliminated. The overall scheme is rather like a genetic packet being sandwiched into the mosquito’s DNA.

The results are still to be confirmed but the success rate is most likely to be close to 100%. What works in real life does not need corroboration. It is a cinch and will lead to the removal of painful and debilitating diseases and maladies among humans. Malaria, which afflicts so many in Africa and Asia, will be a thing of the past when the plan is put into action in the future.   

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/20" rel="author">Sumayah Aamir</a>
Sumayah Aamir (Google+) has deep experience in analyzing the latest trends.




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