Anopheles gambiae mosquito
Genetically modifying mosquitoes to express antimalarial genes and pass them on to their offspring is being tested as a new strategy to eliminate malaria
Altering a mosquito’s gut genes to make them spread antimalarial genes to the next generation of their species shows promise as an approach to curb malaria, suggests a preliminary study published today in eLife.
The study is the latest in a series of steps toward using CRISPR-Cas9 gene-editing technology to make changes in mosquito genes that could reduce their ability to spread malaria. If further studies support this approach, it could provide a new way to reduce illnesses and deaths caused by malaria.
Growing mosquito resistance to pesticides, as well as malaria parasite resistance to antimalarial drugs, has created an urgent need for new ways to fight the disease. Gene drives are being tested as a new approach. They work by creating genetically modified mosquitoes that, when released into the environment, would spread genes that either reduce mosquito populations or make the insects less likely to spread the malaria parasite. But scientists must prove that this approach is safe and effective before releasing genetically modified mosquitoes into the wild.
“Gene drives are promising tools for malaria control,” says first author Astrid Hoermann, Research Associate at Imperial College London, UK. “But we wanted a clear pathway for safely testing such tools in countries where the disease most commonly occurs.”
In the study, Hoermann and colleagues genetically modified the malaria-transmitting mosquito Anopheles gambiae. They used the CRISPR-Cas9 technology to insert a gene that encodes an antimalarial protein amidst genes that are turned on after the mosquito eats a blood meal. The team did this in a manner that allowed the whole section of DNA to also function as a gene drive that could be passed on to most of the mosquitoes’ offspring. They initially inserted the gene along with a fluorescent marker to help them track it in three different spots in the DNA, and then later removed the marker, leaving only a minor genetic modification behind.
Next, the team bred the mosquitoes to see if they were able to successfully reproduce and remain healthy. They also tested how well the malaria parasite developed in the mosquitoes’ guts. Their experiments provide preliminary evidence that this approach to genetic modifications could create successful gene drives.
“These genetic modifications are passive, and could be tested in the field and undergo a stringent regulatory process to ensure they are safe and effective in blocking the parasite without raising concerns of accidental spread in the environment,” explains senior author Nikolai Windbichler, Senior Lecturer at the Department of Life Sciences, Imperial College London. “However, once we combine them with other mosquitoes with an active gene drive, they turn into gene drives themselves without the need for any further changes. Our approach thus brings gene drives one step closer to being tested in the field as a malaria elimination strategy.”
Original Article: Simple genetic modification aims to stop mosquitoes spreading malaria
More from: Imperial College London
The Latest Updates from Bing News & Google News
Go deeper with Bing News on:
- Yobe Engages Healthcare Partners As Malaria Support Group Closes Outon August 22, 2021 at 8:43 pm
As the Support to National Malaria Programme II (SuNMaP2) funded by Foreign Commonwealth Development Office (FCDO) in Yobe State closes out, the state ...
- HEALTH FOCUS: Is Uganda on course to eliminate malaria by 2030?on August 22, 2021 at 11:37 am
Every 20th of August, the world commemorates the World Mosquito day to raise awareness about the illness and diseases caused by mosquitoes. It marks the day Dr. Sir Ronald Ross discovered ...
- Study shows more malaria infections in a community leads to more cases of severe symptomson August 20, 2021 at 7:20 am
A team of researchers from the U.K., Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania has found that a higher prevalence of malarial infections in a given community leads to higher numbers of people with severe malarial ...
- China's successful elimination of malaria, and its global impacton August 19, 2021 at 9:54 pm
China’s achievement shows us that it’s possible to eliminate the disease worldwide. Innovative Chinese approaches may provide a successful formula for Africa, which has 90% of the global malaria ...
- How the malaria parasite defends itself from feveron August 16, 2021 at 8:00 am
A gene called PfAP2-HS allows the malaria parasite to defend itself from adverse conditions in the host, including febrile temperatures, according to a new study led by the Barcelona Institute for ...
Go deeper with Google Headlines on:
Go deeper with Bing News on:
Genetically modified mosquitoes
- Locals protest over genetically modified mosquito plan in Florida Keyson August 19, 2021 at 5:00 pm
The protest was over a plan by a British biotech company to release millions of genetically modified mosquitoes within the Florida Keys in an effort to combat the invasive Aedes aegypti species.
- About Malaria And Vector-borne Diseaseson August 19, 2021 at 5:00 pm
Malaria and other vector-borne diseases, including dengue and Zika, affect millions globally. More than 400 000 people a year die from malaria alone. If proven safe, effective and affordable, ...
- Despite Zika threat, plan to test 'Franken-fly' in Keys remains in federal review limboon August 18, 2021 at 5:00 pm
This week, the World Health Organization said fogging "followed by the controlled release of genetically modified mosquitoes" is worth considering. Florida Keys Mosquito Control District executive ...
- EPA Revokes Food Uses for Chlorpyrifoson August 18, 2021 at 3:28 pm
As expected, the EPA issued a final rule that will revoke the food tolerances for chlorpyrifos and end its use for food and most agricultural crop uses.
- LANL scientist testing bacteria to stop diseaseson August 17, 2021 at 5:00 pm
Sayre’s mosquito team is directly trying to address ... While concerns have been raised about genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, Sayre said RNA molecules are “naturally occurring in ...