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DNA Technology To Combat Malaria

malariafemalanophelesmosquitoWith around a million people dying each year, malaria is one of the most deadly diseases in the world. However, there appears to be some glimmer of hope around the corner as scientists at the Imperial College London and the University of Washington, Seattle, get closer to being able to change the DNA of wild mosquitoes.

According to a report in Nature, scientists were able to spread a gene from only a handful of mosquitoes to most of the population, in just a few generations, thus raising the hope that if the right genes could be identified, they could be passed on to other mosquitoes and therefore result in a reduction in the high number of current malaria cases.

Malaria-resistant Mosquitoes

Already, researchers have created malaria-resistant mosquitoes by using techniques that introduces genes to disrupt the malaria parasite’s development. However, the challenge which this new study addressed was that of getting the malaria-resistant genes to spread from the genetically-modified mosquitoes to the wild mosquitoes.

The discovery came as researchers inserted a gene into the mosquito DNA – a homing endonuclease called i-Scei. At the end of the process, the gene had spread to half the caged mosquitoes in 12 generations during the laboratory experiments. The fact that the idea has been proved in principle means that scientists now believe that is is possible to introduce genes that could stop the malaria parasite from multiplying in mosquitoes by getting other genes to spread in a similar way. More research is however needed before it could be properly used as a “genetic control strategy”.

Talking Point

Can malaria ever be eradicated in the world?

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  1. Henway

    May 12, 2011 at 12:28 am

    It’s great to see disruptive tech being produced that actually helps human lives. I’m pretty sick of hearing news about “thin” startups that Color that produce nothing of value

  2. Ava

    May 12, 2011 at 11:23 pm

    Science can really do anything, it seems. I would be interested to see how long, if successful, it would take to combat all the mosquitoes who are affected by Malaria. It would definitely help with the costs and improve the lives of many people. Let’s hope it works!

  3. Luqman

    May 23, 2011 at 5:55 pm

    It is possible, I am looking forward for a malaria-resistant mosquitoes in the future. I hope it will work all over the world.

  4. Jackson

    July 26, 2013 at 10:37 am

    We hope one day people are free from malaria. As you said rightly, more research is required to eradicate the disease. Thanks for this informative content.

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