Gene Drive Supplement

Research Shows Gene Drive Mosquitoes Could Help Malaria Elimination

March 30, 2022

A team of researchers from the United States and the United Kingdom has developed a gene drive effector that can delay Plasmodium development in transgenic Anopheles gambiae mosquitoes using antimicrobial peptides in the midgut. This technique could be used to eliminate malaria under different transmission scenarios.

Malaria remains a devastating human disease. Insecticide-resistant mosquitoes and drug-resistant parasites have brought a decades-long period of progress in reducing cases and deaths to a standstill.

The researchers modified a midgut gene of the malaria mosquito An. gambiae to secrete two exogenous antimicrobial peptides, Magainin 2 and Melittin. The genetic modification, capable of efficient non-autonomous gene drive, hampers oocyst development in both Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium berghei. It also delays the release of infectious sporozoites while simultaneously reducing the lifespan of homozygous female transgenic mosquitoes. Modeling the spread of this modification using a large-scale agent-based model of malaria epidemiology shows that it can break the cycle of disease transmission across a range of endemic settings.

For more details, read the results in the paper published in bioRxiv.

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