posted on Jun, 12 2014 @ 12:23 PM
Over 200 million people are infected by malaria each year, and the majority of the 627,000 deaths per year are children younger than five.
The disease is carried by mosquitos who act as vectors for the parasite. It's only transmitted to humans by female mosquitoes, as they're the only
ones who bite. A team of researchers led by Andrea Crisanti of the Imperial College London managed to genetically modify mosquitos to produce 95% male
offspring, eliminating mosquito populations along with the risk of malaria. The results of the study were published in Nature Communications.
In most species of mosquito, the females need a blood meal in order to acquire the nutrients to create viable eggs. When she does, she can lay about
200 eggs at a time in water, and up to 3,000 eggs over the course of her lifetime. About half of those offspring will be daughters, many of whom will
live long enough to produce that amount of offspring also. For humans living near mosquitos carrying the parasite that causes malaria, those numbers
of female mosquitos present a very real threat.
But what if the numbers could be skewed so that the sex ratio favors males, who are harmless to humans? This is exactly what Crisanti’s team set out
to do with Anopheles gambiae, a species of mosquito endemic to sub-Saharan Africa, where 95% of malaria deaths occur. The researchers modified the
males with the enzyme I-Ppol, which excises the X chromosome during spermatogenesis. This renders sperm that would produce daughters to be
non-functional, while the sperm that will create male offspring are unaffected. As a result, about 95% of the resulting offspring are male.
Next, modified males were introduced to five caged wild-type populations. As the males mated with the females, they passed along the same mutation
until it dominated the population. For four of the five populations, it took only six generations for the mosquitos to die out due to a lack of
“What is most promising about our results is that they are self-sustaining,” co-author Nikolai Windbichler said in a press release. “Once
modified mosquitoes are introduced, males will start to produce mainly sons, and their sons will do the same, so essentially the mosquitoes carry out
the work for us.”
This is a huge step in the right direction IMO. Of course as they admit they are still in the early stages and they are testing for any unseen
complications that may arise. As it turns out the ecosystem wouldn't really miss them as another species could easily fill the niche. Erradicating
those buggers would work to stabilise economies such as Africa where it costs them about 12 billion a year due to malaria infections. Malaria is a
huge killer of people worldwide as well.
My father had contracted malaria while in Vietnam and I can remember that every year it would come back on him at least once making very sick for a
few days. In fact, I think it had a role in his death as he seemed like it was coming back on him before his stroke. Dengue fever is no joke either,
but it doesn't stay with you like malaria. It would be great to eliminate the fear of life threatening diseases borne from a mosquito bite.
Growing up I had heard stories that the love bugs here in Florida were a genetic experiment to engineer a mosquito killer gone awry however that
turned out to be a wives tale. If you don't know what love bugs are then be grateful they destroy the paint on your car and love the smell of exhaust
so they clog up the roadways. I only add that bit in because I am sure someone else has heard that tale before as well.
Anyway what do you think of this development ATS?
Links below to articles on the matter the source article came from IFLScience that is below as well.