TUCSON, July 16 (UPI) — U.S. scientists say they’ve genetically engineered a “malaria-proof” mosquito that would not spread the deadly disease.
Researchers at the University of Arizona introduced a gene into mosquitoes affecting the insects’ gut, where malarial parasites that can infect humans develop, BBC news reported Friday.
They said the altered gene affects a “signaling molecule” affecting the mosquitoes’ cells, preventing the parasite from developing, the BBC said.
The ultimate goal, the researchers said, is to introduce malaria-resistant mosquitoes into the environment.
For that to be successful, the genetically modified insects would have to “take over” from the naturally occurring, disease-spreading mosquitoes.
“Before we do this, we have to somehow give the mosquitoes a competitive advantage over the disease-carrying insects,” Professor Michael Riehle from the University of Arizona said.
Researchers must also face serious ethical questions in releasing a genetically modified insect into the environment, the BBC said.
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