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Scientists Created Genetically Engineered Mosquitoes That Cannot Transmit Malaria
One of the most common and most effective ways to combat the spread of malaria epidemics is the control of mosquitoes that transmit this disease from one human to another. Unfortunately, it turned out that this type of fighting against epidemic can not be fully controlled. Mosquito disinsection in the past few years has been less effective because the mosquitoes quickly developed immunity to pesticides that have been used to destroy them. A similar process occurs with the parasite that causes malaria, which repeatedly continues to developed resistance to various drugs that come from science labs.

But it is possible that science finally has a solution that does not mean the destruction of large populations of mosquitoes carrying malaria, according to ArsTechnica. In fact, several years ago began testing in the wilderness during which the mosquitoes that transmit Dengue fever were infected with a special kind of bacteria that prevents the spread of the virus. In a recently published study, a team of scientists published almost sensational results of long-term experiments – they were able to create genetically modified mosquitoes that, even if you pick up the malaria virus, are not capable of transmitting it to humans. Very simply put: scientists forced the mosquitoes to eject specific antibodies that destroy parasites every time they feed on human blood.

Current Solutions

Various antibodies and vaccines in the past have proved to be quite inefficient methods of treatment and prevention of the spread of epidemic malaria. Vaccines have been largely ineffective because the Plasmodium falciparum (a parasite that causes malaria) demonstrated a remarkable ability to develop resistance to almost every vaccine that scientists are tried to develop to destroy it. This parasite is rapidly evolving and developing immunity to the vaccine often completely changing the proteins that are found on the surface, and all thatin order to "confuse" the antibodies. The method by which the parasite camouflages is possible, however, only after the Plasmodium falciparum has got the body of the host.

Plasmodium and Immune System

Mosquitoes, on the other hand, have no immune system based on the antibody as it is the case in humans, which means that the parasite does not have to resort to all sorts of tricks while in the bodies of mosquitoes. For this reason, scientists have managed to create a special type of antibody that recognizes the structure of protein of parasite that cause human malaria, specific for the life stage of the parasite at the time when its host is a mosquito.

Antibodies that attack the malaria parasite are usually a complex combination of four proteins (two heavy and two light chains). To avoid the rather tedious process of inserting all the genes for entire combination of four proteins that build antibodies, scientists have developed a compact version of the antibody, which contains only one gene in which the parts of heavy and light chains are combined. At this point, scientists inserted two compact genes that encourage development of antibodies in a special place in the mosquito genome. To limit the impact of the antibodies on the mosquitoes, the researchers ensured that the antibody genes "activated" only after a mosquito ate his first meal, or come into contact with the victim's bloodstream.

No Risk for Mosquitoes

As for the risk of this genetic modification of mosquitoes harming themselves, scientists claim that tests have found that the fear is unwarranted. On the female mosquitoes, genes with antibodies had absolutely no effect, and the males were only minimally reduced in life expectancy. It is important to note that this shortened life span in no way affects the reduction of mosquito populations since the genetically modified mosquitoes can easily experience a period of sexual maturity. So, concerning mosquitoes, the new genes did nothing bad practically, which were definitely good news for scientists who seem to have managed to find a solution to combat malaria that fits to all involved parties (of course, to all but to the parasite that causes the disease).

If it is to believe the results of this study, scientists have finally succeeded. To use a metaphor, from mosquitoes that transmitted malaria they were able to create a hotel in which the virus can check in, but has no way to check out. Once Plasmodium falciparum enters the body of the mosquito, he must find a way to get the salivary glands in order to spread to other organisms. Specific genes inserted into the genome of mosquito managed to prevent this migration, so they practically stopped to be an important link in the chain of spread of malaria epidemics.

But not all research results were in line with the wishes of scientists. In one of four genetically modified mosquito populations, effects of new anti-malarial genes were not as clearly visible as in the remaining populations. It is evident, therefore, that scientists expect more hard work to find a solution for the final suppression of malaria epidemic. In the next few years, scientists will devote particular attention to new experiments and potential side effects of genetic engineering, and only then, if all goes according to the plan, the areas with frequent epidemics of malaria can expect significant progress on this issue.

The Future of New Strategy

Only after successful upcoming testing, scientists could take action in genetic modification of all known populations of mosquitoes that transmit malaria pathogens. They will do this by releasing into the wild quite numerous swarms of genetically modified mosquitoes which will then mix with the "normal" mosquitoes and thus, according to the laws of evolution, the two genes that have been created in laboratories would be transmitted to the offspring. It will take several generations of mosquitoes to complete this process.

If the new genes do not bring some significant advantages to mosquitoes (and probably will not), they will probably disappear from their genomes in a few generations. This of course means it will be necessary to release new amounts of genetically modified mosquitoes at regular intervals. Even if that is the case, this method will still continue to be much more efficient than the currently existing long-term control solutions. Also, the periodic release into the wild of genetically modified mosquitoes will suppress the growing danger for mosquitoes to develop resistance to pesticides that are currently used. In that case, people would lose their B-plan to stop the spread of epidemics of malaria, which can be extremely dangerous.
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These genetically produced mosquitoes have been engineered by Professor Anthony James and his team. These mosquitoes are unable to instil malaria in your body as they are genetically engineered and do not have the natural tendency of spreading malaria in your body. The masculine gender of mosquitoes are born with bids without biting capability while feminine gender mosquitoes are born without bids.


The first practical of this genetic engineering had been carried out over a mice who was affected from Plasmodium known as malaria. The mice had been under the practical forms of antibodies and started killing parasites. This immune efficiency came into the notice of the scientist and altered the same process through genetic engineering in the mosquito. Basically they did not have immune responsiveness and it was the reason that motivated scientist to work over.

How it works?

Basically the immune system plays pivotal role and the insects exist to form malaria are killed when mosquitoes bit a human. It was mainly focused over Anopheles mosquitoes but subsequently implemented over different types of species . Scientist hold the view that sudden elimination of mosquitoes may last effects over the Eco-system hence it is the best way to deal the with diseases they spread after biting a human.

What is future?

This study is under investigation and scientists are trying their best to deal with Dengue and other serious diseases caused by the mosquito. It has very bright future of keeping the health of people intact and let them free from any kind of serious disease. University of California and Pasteur Institute of Paris are engaged in further studies with regard to more genetic modifications.


The world health organization made it public that around 655,000 deaths and 216 million cases of malaria have been reported in the 2012 year. It clearly implies the drastic situation of this disease which is undoubtedly a serious threat to mankind. Since the big chunk of affected people is infant, it needs to be seriously taken and this genetic modification should be applied in all parts of the world.
Sasa Milosevic
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