SEP 21, 2016 2:32 PM PDT

CRISPR is Revolutionizing our Strategy Against Malaria

WRITTEN BY: Xuan Pham

With the current Zika scare in the Americas, it may be easy to forget about other mosquito-related threats - mainly, malaria. Each year, infected mosquitos transmit the disease to more than 200 million people in the world. Of the 500,000 that will succumb to the parasite, most are young children. In total, the Plasmodium parasite responsible for malaria has been purported to have killed about 50 billion people - a chilling statistics that earns malaria the biggest killer in history.

Because wiping out the entire mosquito population is not practically or ethically grounded, geneticists have been tinkering with the mosquitos to stop the spread of malaria. In particular, the emergence of the gene-editing tool CRISPR has led to a new breed of mosquitos that attacks the malaria parasite and prevents its transmission.

Furthermore, geneticists have also engineered gene drives that ensures the propagation of this genetic trait into 100 percent of the offspring - a mechanism that would guarantee the modified mosquitos would win out in the end.

If we have the tools, why haven't we launched the anti-malaria mission yet? Because the gene-editing tool is still relatively new, researchers are proceeding with extreme caution. Specifically, all of the consequences have to be predicted with appropriate measures for control, as the plan would change an entire species' genetic makeup - an act that may not be reversible.
About the Author
  • I am a human geneticist, passionate about telling stories to make science more engaging and approachable. Find more of my writing at the Hopkins BioMedical Odyssey blog and at TheGeneTwist.com.
You May Also Like
OCT 29, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Water Found on Moon Enough to Sustain a Lunar Base
OCT 29, 2020
Water Found on Moon Enough to Sustain a Lunar Base
For the first time, scientists have found water on the moon's sunlit surface. Coupled with other evidence of water i ...
DEC 10, 2020
Plants & Animals
The Surprising Way Honeybees Protect Hives from Hornets
DEC 10, 2020
The Surprising Way Honeybees Protect Hives from Hornets
"Murder hornets," more commonly known as giant hornets, might be new to North America, but in their native ran ...
APR 21, 2021
Space & Astronomy
Earth-like Planet Discovered Orbiting Red Dwarf Star
APR 21, 2021
Earth-like Planet Discovered Orbiting Red Dwarf Star
Researchers from Spain have discovered an Earth-like planet orbiting the star, GJ-740, a red dwarf star located 36 light ...
MAY 01, 2021
Space & Astronomy
Small Galaxies Played Key Role in Evolution of the Universe
MAY 01, 2021
Small Galaxies Played Key Role in Evolution of the Universe
Astrophysicists from the University of Minnesota have found evidence for the theory that small galaxies emitting high-en ...
MAY 10, 2021
Plants & Animals
Sharks Can Use Earth's Magnetic Field to Navigate
MAY 10, 2021
Sharks Can Use Earth's Magnetic Field to Navigate
How do sharks make transatlantic journeys without losing their way? New research published this week in Current Biology ...
MAY 21, 2021
Space & Astronomy
Alien Radioactive Element Discovered on Earth for First Time
MAY 21, 2021
Alien Radioactive Element Discovered on Earth for First Time
  Researchers from Australian National University have discovered the first ever extraterrestrial radioactive isoto ...
Loading Comments...