Washington: For years, researchers have
attempted to create genetically altered mosquitoes that cannot
infect humans with malaria which claims over one million lives
worldwide every year.
Now, for the first time, scientists claim to have
successfully succeeded in genetically altering mosquitoes in
a way which renders them completely immune to the parasite, a
single-celled organism called Plasmodium.
"If you want to effectively stop the spreading
of the malaria parasite, you need mosquitoes that are no less
than 100 per cent resistant to it. If a single parasite slips
through and infects a human, the whole approach will fail,"
said Michael Riehle, who led a team at University of Arizona.
For the research, Riehle`s team used molecular biology
techniques to design a piece of genetic information capable of
inserting itself into a mosquito`s genome. This construct was
then injected into the eggs of the mosquitoes. The emerging
generation carries the altered genetic information and passes
it on to future generations.
In their experiments, the scientists used Anopheles
stephensi, a mosquito species that is an important malaria
vector throughout the Indian subcontinent.
They targeted one of the many biochemical pathways
inside the mosquito`s cells. Specifically, they engineered
a piece of genetic code acting as a molecular switch in the
complex control of metabolic functions inside the cell.