Scientists genetically create ‘a kind of hermaphrodite’ mosquitoes to help eradicate the spread of infections including Zika and Malaria, dengue fever.
Entomologist Ruth Mueller, who runs the operation, says the mosquitoes’ genes could be edited using a technique called CRISPR – essentially cutting and pasting DNA.
And the DNA is edited in a way which makes sure the extra male characteristics are passed on to all offspring.
The effect will spread and accumulate until eventually mosquitoes born from two mutated parents will be unable to bite or reproduce at all.
‘The females become a bit more male,’ Dr Mueller says. ‘A kind of hermaphrodite.’
As more and more female mosquitoes inherit two copies of the modification, more and more become sterile, the NPR add.
Animal and environmental activists have criticised the initiative, but Dr Mueller insists that modified mosquitoes would only affect one of hundreds of mosquito species.
Supporters, including The Bill & Melinda Gates foundation, believe the benefits outweigh any negatives, which could include pollination issues.
‘Malaria is a huge problem affecting probably two-thirds of the world’s population,’ says Tony Nolan, who helped develop the mosquitoes at Imperial College London.
‘There’s going to be concerns with any technology.
‘But I don’t think you should throw out a technology without having done your best to understand what its potential is to be transformative for medicine.
‘And, were it to work, this would be transformative.
Source : Dailymail