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Science: March 21, 2007

'Glow In The Dark Mosquitoes' Fight Malaria

transgenic_mosquito.jpg

Malaria is the most widespread of the transmissible diseases. It threatens almost one third of Humanity, affects around 600 million people and is responsible, each year, for more than 2 million deaths.

Caused by microscopic parasites, Plasmodia, this disease is transmitted by the bite of certain mosquitoes, the Anopheles.

There is new hope: a study published in this week's early online edition of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggests that transgenic (genetically modified) malaria-resistant mosquitoes have a fitness advantage when feeding on Plasmodium-infected blood, and if released in the wild, could outbreed natural mosquitoes and reduce the spread of malaria. (The genetically engineered mosquitoes with eyes that glow in the dark and do not carry malaria).

However, could these genetically engineered insects be a double edged sword, bringing about unintended consequences more significant than the initial problem? It's a question worth asking.

In the meantime researchers are struggling with how to improve the survival rates of the mosquito hybrid when feeding on non-infected blood.... more here.

Image: PNAS

Posted by tim at March 21, 2007 11:36 PM




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