Scientists are on the edge of a scientific breakthrough that could combat and possibly eliminate forever the dreaded disease known as malaria. They are closer than ever to being able to alter the DNA of wild mosquitoes within a laboratory setting
According to a recent report published in Nature, by spreading the right gene developed in a laboratory from several mosquitoes and applying it to a few subsequent generations, researchers have reason to believe they can significantly decrease the incidence of malaria. This comes with the creation of a strain of malaria-resistant mosquitoes. Techniques include introducing these new genes that act as disruptors in the malaria parasite’s development.
The study is well respected and considered “a major step forward” by other researchers in the field. Malaria is estimated to claim the lives of one million people annually.
Although the research is very promising, one major problem remains. How will they get those genes to spread from the malaria-resistant generation of mosquitoes into the masses of wild insects all over the world? Scientists at Imperial College London and the University of Washington, in Seattle, believe a workable solution is within reach.
Biologically speaking, the gene creates an enzyme, which bisects the DNA. The repair machinery within the cell repairs the cut by utilizing the new gene as a template. The repair technique works in such a way as to insure that all the sperm produced by a male mosquito carries the new gene (homing endonuclease). The gene is thereby copied for future insect generations promising a future world without malaria, which is largely preventable and curable.
Thanks to scientists, a healthier world waits in the wings, free from another devastating disease.