The head of Microsoft and erstwhile richest man in the world, Bill Gates sees hope on the horizon. He thinks that genetically altered mosquitoes are an ideal way of conquering malaria.
Bill Gates is a man who thinks he can and he has a plan. He is willing to bet his bottom dollar that genetically modified mosquitoes are the answer to the resurgence of malaria incidents.
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Via gene editing technology, scientists can alter mosquitoes in such a manner that they end up resistant to malaria and dengue. Through a novel method known as “gene drive”, the entire species of mosquitoes may be made impervious to the disease known as malaria.
Bill Gates in fact believes that within half a decade, the phenomenon known as “gene drive” will be so common that it will be out there in the real world and so the very word “disease” will start to wither away from the vocabulary of the world.
While in normal replication a mosquito having an altered gene will pass on the sequence to half of its offspring, in case of gene drive, 100% of the progeny will carry that altered gene.
Gene drives will help in the delivery of a knock out punch to mosquito populations thereby reducing the rate of infectious diseases. Gene drive is not without its controversial aspects though.
While the genetic engineering procedures could lead to 100% of the offspring carrying the altered gene, this new breed of mosquitoes could possibly mate with other organisms related to its kind.
Thus the chances of spontaneous mutations that were not meant to be might sprout out of nowhere. The process needs to be honed even more and perfected before it could be applied in the real world.
Yet Bill Gates is adamant that something needs to be done to save the men, women and children who die of malaria each year. They cannot be abandoned to the vagaries of fate. Gene drive is the best method of combating such diseases as malaria.
However, even Bill Gates agrees with the scientists that the procedure needs to be streamlined and its evolution is crucial. Bill has bequeathed $2 billion for the sake of eradicating the scourge of malaria in backwards areas of the world.
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Gates is also looking into a different method of ending malaria and other diseases once and for all. The mosquitoes are infected with a bacterium which blocks the the transmission of dengue and Zika Virus. Work has already begun on this.