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Unleashing mutated mosquitoes to fight malaria

The 'Aedes aegypti' mosquito which is the carrier of dengue fever WHO
Anopheles gambiae may meet its match in Medea.

Scientists hope a synthetic gene known as Medea can wipe out the most common mosquito species that spreads malaria in sub-Saharan Africa. Scientists are trying to pinpoint the malaria-transmitting gene in mosquitoes and engineer genetically-modified mosquitoes (GMM) that lack the deadly gene. The hope is that GMM will prevail in a survival-of-the-fittest struggle between disease-carrying mosquitoes and the genetically-modified variety.

Medea is an acronym for “maternal-effect dominant embryonic arrest”, with reference to the Greek myth of a woman who murders her children.

In a recently published analysis of GMM research, scientists from the University of California wrote that the creation of a gene that could reduce mosquitoes’ ability to spread malaria “is not far away”. But given some 400 million infections annually - mostly in sub-Saharan Africa - GMM cannot provide an “all-in-one” solution, according to the scientists.


This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

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