Gene Modification in Mosquitoes Could Lead to Downfall of Species

Stripe on stripe” by coniferconifer licensed under CC BY 2.0

Source: NPR

A project funded by Bill and Melinda Gates is researching the outcomes of engineering gene mutations within mosquitos that prevent them from feeding on humans, laying eggs, and ultimately from spreading disease.

The Italy-based scientific experiment is essentially altering a gene found in female mosquitos (which are the ones that bite humans), in order to “reshape their mouths” in a way that they can no longer feed on human blood, and therefore, not spread disease.

The study is ultimately hoping to have the species do the unthinkable and extraordinary: destroy its own kind. The gene mutation could ultimately lead to a decline in mosquitoes that spread disease. Researchers are hoping that if the tests prove to work in the lab (where the offspring of mosquitos with the gene mutation are being analyzed for the gene in giant enclosed glass cases), then they could potentially help in the real world with the elimination of its species, and end the populations of mosquitoes that carry malaria and other diseases.

Researchers say the gene drive basically forces all offspring to be born with that particular gene, and in this case, all mosquitos are born with the mutation that prevents them from sucking on human blood. If this works, which researchers say could take another year to prove and another five years to implement, it could be life changing for the health of the world.

Read Full Story: NPR

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