News / Health

Mosquitoes Genetically Modified to Prevent Malaria

Kills disease-causing parasite once it becomes infected

Researchers have genetically engineered mosquitoes to boost their immune system, thereby blocking transmission of the disease to humans.
Researchers have genetically engineered mosquitoes to boost their immune system, thereby blocking transmission of the disease to humans.

Multimedia

Audio
Jessica Berman

There may soon be a new weapon in the fight against malaria - a genetically-modified mosquito that kills the disease-causing parasite once it becomes infected.

Malaria is a leading cause of death worldwide. The mosquito-borne illness was responsible for 655,000 deaths in 2010, according to the latest World Health Organization figures, most of them, young children in sub-Saharan Africa.

Researchers have genetically engineered mosquitoes to boost their immune system, thereby blocking transmission of the disease to humans. 

The altered mosquitoes produce higher than normal levels of the immune system protein, Rel2. That activates a host of anti-parasitic molecules which, in turn, launch an all-out attack on the malaria parasite. The parasite enters the insect's gut after it takes a blood meal from infected humans.

“We’re basically attacking the parasite with multiple weapons at the same time as it is infecting the mosquito, and that will much make it more difficult for this parasite to develop resistance,” says George Dimopoulos at the Johns Hopkins University Malaria Research Institute in Baltimore, Maryland.  

So far, the genetically modified, or GM, mosquitoes are breeding and living as long as normal mosquitoes.  Dimopoulos says that’s good news because he hopes eventually to breed them with mosquitoes in the wild so off-spring are born with heightened immune systems.

While GM mosquitoes could be a powerful weapon against the dreaded disease Dimopoulos says it will remain only one tool in the fight against the deadly malaria parasite.

“Our approach, based on genetically-modified mosquitoes, will only work in areas where transmission of malaria is carried out by a single mosquito species and not multiple species of mosquitoes because we will not be able to genetically manipulate each one of them individually.”

Dimopoulos’s team worked with Anopheles gambiae mosquitoes, the principal carrier of the malaria parasite in Africa. They are continuing research  to see whether the genetic manipulation works on other species of mosquitos that transmit malaria parasites.

You May Like

Turkey's Controversial Reform Bill Giving Investors Jitters

Homeland security reform bill will give police new powers in search, seizure, detention and arrests, while restricting the rights of suspects, their attorneys More

Audio Slideshow In Kenyan Prison, Good Grades Are Path to Freedom

Some inmates who get high marks could see their sentences commuted to non-custodial status More

Ali Regained Title in Historic Fight 40 Years Ago

'The Champ' knocked Foreman out to regain crown he had lost 7 years earlier when US government accused him of draft-dodging and boxing officials revoked his license More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisiai
X
Henry Ridgwell
October 30, 2014 11:39 PM
Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisia

Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Africa Tells its Story Through Fashion

In Africa, Fashion Week is a riot of colors, shapes, patterns and fabrics - against the backdrop of its ongoing struggle between nature and its fast-growing urban edge. How do these ideas translate into needle and thread? VOA’s Anita Powell visited this year’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa in Johannesburg to find out.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.

All About America

AppleAndroid