An international team of scientists is conducting a controversial experiment in Italy. The experiment is designed to test genetically modified mosquitoes, which researchers hope can provide a powerful new weapon to fight malaria, which remains one of the largest scourges in the world.
Mosquitoes are a whole new species of genetically modified organism. The insects, members of the malaria-transmitting species, have been modified using a powerful gene editing technique called CRISPR to carry a DNA sequence known as "gene drive" that is designed to drive genetic modification rapidly across entire populations. in appearance.
The mutation is intended to sterilize mosquito populations that transmit malaria in the wild, causing them to collapse. And that, hopefully, would help stop the spread of the parasite against malaria. However, the experiment is controversial because of fears that genetically modified insects could cause adverse environmental effects if ever released into the wild.
Thus, the mosquitoes are first tested in a specially designed high-security laboratory in Terni, Italy. The lab is designed to mimic the natural environment in sub-Saharan Africa – and to ensure that none of the insects escapes.