Genetically Engineered Mosquitoes Are 100% Resistant to Malaria

Scientists at the University of Arizona have created mosquitoes that are completely safe from the parasite that causes malaria. It does so by reducing the lifespan of the engineered mosquitoes. Most mosquitoes live only two to three weeks, but the parasite needs twelve to sixteen days to develop inside a mosquito. Consequently, these mosquitoes don't live long enough to become dangerous.

So with that problem solved, how can scientists use the new mosquitoes to destroy malaria? At Popular Science, Laurie J. Schmidt explains:

According to Riehle, completely eradicating the malaria parasite carried by mosquitoes requires three things: the ability to engineer the mosquito, finding genes or molecules that can kill the malaria parasite, and giving the modified mosquitoes a competitive advantage so they can replace the wild population. The first two components have been accomplished, but Riehle says the third represents a bigger hurdle. "A lot of research is being done now to give the mosquitoes fitness advantages so that they can replace the wild populations," he said. "But it's probably at least a decade away, and if this is ever used for malaria control it will take several years for population replacement to actually occur."


Link | Photo by John Tann used under Creative Commons license | Malaria Vaccine Spread Through Mosquitoes Themselves

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I like science. I'm not entirely against genetic engineering when done right. But breeding something that out-competes mosquitoes just sounds like it's introducing trouble of a different sort.
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