Extermination plan for malaria-carrying mosquitoes tested in lab
In a small laboratory study using genetic engineering tools, British scientists have succeeded in eradicating a population of malaria-spreading mosquitoes. All thanks to the editing of genes responsible for sex.
Syndromeoł scientistoin Imperial College London succeeded in destroying populations of the mosquito species Anopheles gambiae In just 7-11 generations. Researchers in the experiment were able to block the mosquitoes’ reproductive capacityow using genetic engineering. This is the first such successful experiment on a complex organism.
The technique used by the researchers called gene drive or gene overwritingow (gene drive), has been used to selectively target mosquito speciesow responsible for malaria transmission in sub-Saharan Africa. For the first time, gene drive was able to completely suppress the population, overcoming problems with ktormies measured by previous studies.
There are about 3,500 species in the worldoin mosquitoow, with whichoof which only 40 can carry malaria. In 2016 alone, an estimated 216 millionoIn new casesoIn malaria, the mainownie in Africa and about 445,000. deathow, chiefoincluding children under the age of five.
– In 2016, for the first time in more than twooch decades there has been an increase in malaria cases despite massive effortsow and resourcesow intended for this purpose, suggesting that we need more tools in this fight – said study leader Professor Andrea Crisanti of Imperial College London.
The results of the study were published in „Nature Biotechnology”.
Scientists using gene editing techniquesoin CRISPR-Cas9 they modified a gene called doublesex, whichory determines whether a single mosquito will develop as a male or female. Teamoł has designed a solution to selectively alter the region of the doublesex gene responsible for the development of theoj females.
Males thatore carried the modified gene showed no changes, as did females, but with only one copy of the modified gene. In contrast, females with two copies of the modified gene exhibited the traits of zaroBoth male and female. They did not bite or lay eggs.
Experience has shown that with the gene drive technique, genetic modification has been passed on to offspring almost 100 percent. casesow. After eight generations, no more females have emerged, and the population has collapsed due to lack of offspring. In earlier probach targeted genes developed mutations thatore allowed the gene to perform its function, but it was not fully passed on to offspring.
Such genetically modified mosquitoes could be released into the wild in the future spreading infertility throughout the population and leading to its extinction.
– This breakthrough shows that gene drive can work, offering hope in the fight against the disease, ktora has plagued humanity for centuries. There is still much to be done, zaroin terms of testing the technology in larger laboratory studies, as well as working with affected countries to assess the feasibility of such an intervention – admitted Crisanti. The scientist added that it would still take about 5-10 years before this could be put into practice.
– The research showed that we are on the right track. Drive solutionsow genes have the potential to one day accelerate malaria eradication and overcome logistical and financial barriers in poor countries – Crisanti pointed out.
Despite its success in laboratory tests, the compositeoł researchers say further research is needed to confirm the stability of the modified gene under laboratory conditions, whichore mimicking tropical environments. This involves testing the technology on larger populations of mosquitoesoin confined in more realistic settings, where competition for food and other ecological factors could alter the effectiveness of technology or cause some complications.
It is also necessary to study how the extinction of one species in a given area will affect the local ecosystem. It is important to remember that once a gene is released into the environment, it will be very difficult to withdraw from it. Scientists say the modified gene does not threaten other species
The doublesex gene is similar throughout the insect worldow, suggesting that similar technology could be used in the future to target other disease-carrying insects.