Gene Drives: The advanced sci-fi technology to fight malaria mosquito explained

Gene Drives: The advanced sci-fi technology to fight malaria mosquito explained

  • Technology
  • May 23, 2022
  • No Comment
  • 79
  • 4 minutes read


  • Genetic engineering in mosquitoes can help eliminate malaria.
  • Genetic unit technology was explored in 2003.
  • Almost half of the world’s population lives in areas at risk of malaria.

Scientists are using the most advanced form of genetic engineering to eliminate a population of mosquitoes that transmit malaria by making females infertile. Scientists introduced a laboratory-fitted gene (gene created by the genetic unit) into an organism that automatically replicates and targets a specific natural gene to destroy it.

The potential of the genetic unit was explored in 2003 by Austin Burt, a professor at Imperial College London. Burt was studying “selfish genes” that can be copied into a specific target DNA sequence. Research development, Burt said, says this technology has great potential, for example, it could be used to eliminate a population of malaria-carrying mosquitoes.

This is what genetic drive technology means in simple words

Animal progenitor A contains gene-boosting companions that are not present in another animal progenitor B, and after mating, embryo formation begins to combine genetic material. This is where Father-A’s genetic drive begins to work. The gene unit of a parent A recognizes the natural gene version of itself on the parent B chromosome (chromosomes are filiform structures made of proteins and a single molecule of DNA). Parent – A destroyed its natural gene version of itself on the opposite chromosome present in parent-B, cutting the DNA strand. Once destroyed, the parent B chromosome repairs itself by copying the genetic unit of parent A.

Thus, the final developed embryo will have a genetic unit, as the embryo takes half of its genes from each parent. This reduces the ability of mosquitoes to reproduce or limits their ability to transmit the parasite.

We need? genetic units?

Seconds World Health Organization627,000 people will die of malaria by 2020. The disease is also reducing economic development by $ 12 billion in Africa.

Current methods of controlling malaria are facing difficulties, as malaria parasites will soon become resistant to drugs (insecticide). The gene unit would be more cost-effective and feasible compared to using insecticides.

There are 3,500 species of mosquitoes in the world and only 800 Africa. The gene unit can target specific species of mosquitoes that transmit malaria: Anopheles gambiae, Anopheles coluzzii and Anopheles arabiensis.

However, gene technology is not allowed for use in wildlife. There are no prohibitions on continuing laboratory research.

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