413GM Mosquito To Fight Malaria
- Jun 21, 2000NHNE News List
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GM MOSQUITO TO FIGHT MALARIA
Wednesday, 21 June, 2000
European scientists have created the world's first genetically-modified
mosquito, which could eliminate malaria by introducing harmless versions of
the insect into the wild.
A piece of foreign DNA was introduced into mosquito eggs, which then
"jumped" into the chromosomes of the larvae, becoming part of the insects'
According to the research, published in British magazine Nature, the DNA
carried added genetic instructions for making a green fluorescent protein,
allowing the modified insects to be identified when they glowed under
The researchers believed the same technique could be used to transform the
most dangerous malaria mosquito, Anopheles gambiae.
The ultraviolet glow shows researchers whether the modified gene has been
passed on to further generations.
Scientists from London's Imperial College, the European Molecular Biology
Laboratory in Heidelberg, Germany, and the Institute of Molecular Biology
and Biotechnology in Crete, Greece are using their knowledge of the fruitfly
Drosophila to help with the research.
Genetics expert, Craig Coates from Texas's A and M University, also writing
in Nature, agrees it is a big step forward: "The successful transformation
of a mosquito vector of human malaria is a notable advance in our ability to
combat this devastating disease."
But he warns of the danger of releasing modified flies into the environment.
Hundreds of millions of people living in tropical and sub-tropical climates
are affected by malaria-carrying mosquitoes. An estimated 2.7m die every
There is no viable vaccine against the malaria parasite, which is also
becoming resistant to the most commonly used drugs.
The control of mosquitoes is hampered by resistance to insecticides and
environmental worries about the long-term impact from the most effective
chemicals, such as DDT.
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