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Scientists Genetically Engineer Mosquitoes that Can't Spread Malaria
Posted by: Prof. Dr. M. Raupp (IP Logged)
Date: October 14, 2022 10:17AM

Researchers from the Transmission:Zero team at Imperial College London
have engineered mosquitoes that slow the growth of malaria-causing
parasites in their gut, preventing transmission of the disease to humans.

Malaria is one of the world's most devastating diseases, putting at risk
about half of the world's population. In 2021 alone, malaria has
infected 241 million and killed 627,000 people, mostly children below
five years old in sub-Saharan Africa. The Transmission:Zero team
genetically engineered (GE)/Anopheles gambiae/, the main
malaria-carrying species of mosquito in sub-Saharan Africa. When the GE
mosquitoes take a blood meal, they produce two molecules called
antimicrobial peptides in their guts. These peptides, originally
isolated from honeybees and African clawed frogs, impair the malaria
parasite's development.

This innovation is designed to be used in current gene drive technology
to help spread it more widely among any natural population. The
Transmission:Zero team is creating two separate but compatible strains
of GE mosquitos, one with the anti-parasite modification and another
with the gene drive. They can then test the anti-parasite modification
on its own first, only adding in the gene drive once it has been shown
to be effective.

With partners in Tanzania, the team has set up a facility to generate
and handle GE mosquitoes and conduct the first tests, including the
collection of parasites from locally infected schoolchildren, to ensure
the modification works against the parasites circulating in relevant


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