Anopheles gambiae may meet its match in Medea.
Scientists hope a synthetic gene known as Medea can wipe out the most common mosquito species that spreads malaria in sub-Saharan Africa. Scientists are trying to pinpoint the malaria-transmitting gene in mosquitoes and engineer genetically-modified mosquitoes (GMM) that lack the deadly gene. The hope is that GMM will prevail in a survival-of-the-fittest struggle between disease-carrying mosquitoes and the genetically-modified variety.
Medea is an acronym for “maternal-effect dominant embryonic arrest”, with reference to the Greek myth of a woman who murders her children.
In a recently published analysis of GMM research, scientists from the University of California wrote that the creation of a gene that could reduce mosquitoes’ ability to spread malaria “is not far away”. But given some 400 million infections annually - mostly in sub-Saharan Africa - GMM cannot provide an “all-in-one” solution, according to the scientists.
See previous Malaria posts