Biotech Updates

CRISPR Used to Decrease the Population of Malaria-Spreading Mosquitoes

July 12, 2023

Scientists at the University of California Berkeley (UC Berkeley) and the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) created a system that uses CRISPR technology to terminate female mosquitoes that can spread diseases. This has the potential to stop the spreading of malaria across the globe.

Malaria is one of the world's deadliest illnesses, which can cause hundreds of thousands of deaths each year. To address this issue, scientists at UC Berkeley and Caltech produced a system called Ifegenia, or "inherited female elimination by genetically encoded nucleases to interrupt alleles.” The procedure employs CRISPR technology to disable the femaleless (fle) gene, which governs sexual development in Anopheles gambiae mosquitoes. Ifegenia functions by genetically encoding the two primary CRISPR elements within African mosquitoes. The elements consist of a Cas9 nuclease, which creates the cuts, and a guide RNA that leads the system to the target site.

"We crossed them together, and in the offspring, it killed all the female mosquitoes," said Andrea Smidler, first author of the study. On the other hand, the male mosquitoes inherit Ifegenia, but it doesn't affect their reproduction. Ifegenia can also be used on other mosquito species that spread diseases, like the ones that transmit Chikungunya, Dengue (break-bone fever), and Yellow Fever viruses.

For more information, read the research article on ScienceAdvances.

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