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Malarial mosquitoes suppressed in experiments that mimic natural environments

Date: 28.7.2021 

Researchers have shown "gene drive" technology, which spreads a genetic modification blocking female reproduction, works in natural-like settings.

Kredit: Target Malaria.The team, led by researchers from Imperial College London, Polo GGB and Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine were able to suppress populations of a malaria-carrying mosquito in a year-long experiment mimicking natural environments. This is the first time a gene drive has been shown to be as effective as expected when tested in challenging ecological conditions over a long timescale.

Despite the reduction in malaria over recent decades, there were still 229 million cases of malaria in 2019 – an increase on the previous year – and 409,000 deaths

Co-lead author of the study Dr. Drew Hammond, from the Department of Life Sciences at Imperial College London and the Johns Hopkins Malaria Research Institute, said: "The challenges facing malaria elimination have intensified in recent years, due in part to the spread of insecticide resistance and large gaps in funding for parts of sub-Saharan Africa.

"Sadly, researchers estimate that COVID-19 related disruptions may have doubled mortality from malaria in 2020, threatening a setback of several decades. "Gene drive is a self-sustaining and fast acting technology that can work alongside existing tools such as bed nets, insecticides and vaccines – and could be a game-changer in bringing about malaria elimination."





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