Scientists modify mosquitoes to produce only males as new method to eradicate malaria

Wednesday, 11 June 2014 - 11:21am IST | Agency: ANI

Scientists from Imperial College London have modified mosquitoes to produce sperm that will only create males, pioneering a fresh approach to eradicating malaria.

In the study, scientists have tested a new genetic method that distorts the sex ratio of Anopheles gambiae mosquitoes, the main transmitters of the malaria parasite, so that the female mosquitoes that bite and pass the disease to humans are no longer produced.

In the first laboratory tests, the method created a fully fertile mosquito strain that produced 95% male offspring.

The scientists introduced the genetically modified mosquitoes to five caged wild-type mosquito populations.

In four of the five cages, this eliminated the entire population within six generations, because of the lack of females.

The hope is that if this could be replicated in the wild, this would ultimately cause the malaria-carrying mosquito population to crash.

This is the first time that scientists have been able to manipulate the sex ratios of mosquito populations. The researchers believe the work paves the way for a pioneering approach to controlling malaria.

The study is published in the journal Nature Communications.


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