The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion and analysis.
And now there are two: For the second time in less than a month, scientists are reporting that they used a powerful new genetic technique to change the DNA of mosquitoes in a way that could reduce the spread of malaria and, crucially, that they have “driven” the new trait through a population of the insects.
In the new study, scientists in London modified the insects’ genome to make females sterile, which should cause a malaria-carrying population of mosquitoes to crash. Last month, a group at the University of California announced that inserted DNA gave mosquitoes the ability to block the malaria parasite so it would not be transmitted through the insects’ bites.
In practical terms, because much more lab research as well as field trials are needed before gene-drive mosquitoes could be released into the environment, it “will be at least 10 more years before gene-drive malaria mosquitos could be a working intervention,” said Austin Burt of Imperial College London. In 2003 Burt proposed using gene drive for that purpose and is considered the founding father of the idea.
But gene drive also raises fears that it could be used for nefarious purposes by terrorists or have unexpected environmental consequences. At a recent meeting of a National Academy of Sciences panel studying gene drive, for instance, one scientist discussed the possibility of “entomological warfare.”
Read full, original post: Malaria kills a half-million Africans a year. Gene-edited mosquitoes might stop it.