Scientists use CRISPR to control mosquito populations for disease prevention

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admin November 8, 2021
Updated 2021/11/08 at 6:35 AM

Researchers have developed a method that uses advances in CRISPR-based genetic engineering to control mosquito populations that infect millions of people each year with severe illnesses.

In Aedes aegypti, the mosquito species responsible for diseases like dengue fever, chikungunya, and Zika, the “precision-guided sterile insect technique” (pgSIT) alters genes linked to male fertility—creating sterile offspring—and female flight, according to a press release from the University of California, San Diego. The pgSIT has been described in detail in Nature Communications.

CRISPR is used in the pgSIT to sterilise male mosquitos and render female mosquitos (which carry illness) flightless. According to the press release, the system is self-limiting and is not expected to persist or spread in the environment, two safety aspects that should help the technology gain acceptability.

According to the researchers, pgSIT eggs can be delivered to a place where mosquito-borne illness is a problem or created at an on-site facility that can generate the eggs for deployment nearby. When pgSIT eggs are released in the wild, sterile pgSIT males emerge and mate with females, reducing the natural population as needed.

 

Source: The Indian Express

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