Saving 800,000 lives by controlling malaria

April 21, 2011 at 5:09 am Leave a comment

One of our top posts of 2010 described a study by Cornell researchers who proposed that preventing mosquitoes from urinating as they feed on blood may help control mosquitoes that spread dengue fever, yellow fever and other diseases (see If it can’t pee, it won’t bite me).

A more conventional (albeit less entertaining) study was published in Nature this week demonstrated how genetic changes can be introduced into large laboratory mosquito populations over the span of a few generations by just a small number of modified mosquitoes which could eventually help prevent the spread of the deadly malaria parasite, Plasmodium, to humans.

The researchers bred mosquitoes with a green fluorescent gene, as a marker that can easily be observed in experiments. They allowed these insects to mingle and mate with a small number of mosquitoes that carried a segment of DNA coding for an enzyme capable of permanently inactivating the fluorescent gene. After each generation, they counted how many mosquitoes still retained an active fluorescent gene.

They found that in experiments which began with close to 99% of green fluorescent mosquitoes, more than half had lost their green marker genes in just 12 generations. The study is the first successful proof-of-principle experiment of its kind, and suggests that this technique could similarly be used to propagate a genetic change within a wild mosquito population.

For more information see Scientists prove new technology to control malaria-carrying mosquitoes.

Source: Imperial College London

Entry filed under: Biotechnology News. Tags: .

Yet more on the science of chololate Presentation: Genes, Genomes and the Future of Medicine – Richard Lifton, M.D., Ph.D.

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