A revolutionary exploration on malaria disease by US Scientist has set the bar of hope quite high that the scourge of malaria is going to fade from certain regions of world. A group of scientists from university of California, Irvine and San Diego published a research paper stating that Malaria can be controlled by passing specific genes sets to offspring’s.
Malaria is worlds one of the oldest and deadliest threat to human life. It has been a long time that Scientists are trying to invent a way to restricted malaria. There were few past attempts like sterilizing male mosquitoes in this regard. Researchers tried to customize the genetic coding of mosquitoes to ensure male birth by mosquitoes. However this time researchers were trying a different approach to deal the situation and surprising they succeed in their attempt.
The study introduced gene-editing as a weapon in the paper. Genetic engineering is a technique by which DNA’s can be manipulated by inserting; deleting or replacing it from genomes. Researcher’s said that they will use this technique on a species called Anopheles stephensi that spreads malaria in urban India. A genetically manipulated mosquito was designed that was resistant on spreading Malaria .The study team used the “gene drive” technique to ensure altering of the natural genetic coding.
The study team used highly effective CRISPR-9 gene editing technique to insert two genes that encode the resistance onto the mosquito’s chromosomes. After the genetic editing is done, the altered genes were passed on the offspring’s. Releasing these mosquitoes in wild population will make sure that these resistance genes go viral. Researcher’s are expecting a good result within a year.
However, this is an early stage of such research and there are many levels of ethical and technical debates to overcome. Social scientist would have to work thoroughly for making rules for such studies. “It’s not going to go anywhere until the social science advances to the point where we can handle it,” UCI molecular biologist, Anthony James further stated “We’re not about to do anything foolish.” James also said that the UC researchers plan to move slowly and very carefully forward with their research. “This is the kind of technology where the first trial has to be a success”, he said.
Malaria is deadly disease. Half of the world’s population , around 3.2 billion people are at risk of malaria. The disease claims the lives of about 580,000 people each year.