Mar 11, 2022
Target Malaria report on the first-ever release of genetically modified mosquitoes in Africa. Transcript
Genetically engineered so they can’t transmit malaria, gene drive mosquitoes could be game-changing. But we first need to understand how genetically modified mosquitoes reared in a lab behave in the wild. And in 2019, Target Malaria released on a small scale, and for the first time in Africa, genetically modified sterile male mosquitoes. Now, these weren’t gene drive mosquitoes – ones with special genetic traits to be inherited. These mosquitoes couldn’t mate - so when they died, so did any genetic modification. But this study does demonstrate that GM mosquitoes are as mobile as wild mosquitoes, and they swarm normally. But GM mosquitoes did have a fitness cost, dispersing less efficiently with a shorter life span. This important piece of research forms part of the phased development of gene drives, which Target Malaria hope will one day be brought to Africa.
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The Johns Hopkins Malaria Minute podcast is produced by the Johns Hopkins Malaria Research Institute to highlight impactful malaria research and to share it with the global community.