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413GM Mosquito To Fight Malaria

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  • NHNE
    Jun 21, 2000
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      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'
      genetic makeup.

      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
      ultraviolet light.

      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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