Scientists genetically modified mosquitoes in a high-security laboratory – and hope that insects will help to wipe out some of the mosquito-borne diseases that continue to infect communities around the world
Known as genetically a device: where mosquitoes modified to be unable to transmit a particular virus are used to replace the existing insect population for several generations, and the modified genes are passed on to their entire generation. The idea has attracted controversy because it is mixed with the foundations of nature but is now being considered by the World Health Organization (WHO). This special testing has entered a new phase, NPR reports, with large-scale release of genetically modified products within the Terni facility in Italy.
"This will really be a breakthrough experiment," entomologist Ruth Müller Laboratory, said Rob Stein in the NPR. "It's a historic moment, it's very exciting."
Using the CRISPR molecular scissors editing technique, a gene known as the "double hex" in the bugs has been changed. The gene transforms female mosquitoes by removing their ability to bite and makes them barren
Currently, bugs are released into cells designed to replicate their natural environment with hot, humid air and shelter. Artificial lights are used to simulate sunrise and sunset.
The idea is to see if mosquitoes with CRISPR-edged genetic code can destroy unmodified insects in the cells. This follows from previous proof-of-concept studies we have seen before
Finally, these mosquitoes can be released in areas affected by malaria, leading to the demolition of the local population and the saving of human lives. The disease causes more than 400,000 deaths every year ̵
The reduction of these figures sounds like a great idea, so why the contradictions? Well, many scientists insist on caution when it comes to changing the genetic code at this fundamental level – we just do not know what impact genetically modified mosquitoes will have on the world around them.
For this reason, the laboratory is designed to minimize any chance that the mosquitoes specially created will escape. The study is specially located in Italy, where this type of mosquito – Anopheles gambiae – could not survive outside in the natural climate.
"This is a technology where you do not know where it will end," said Nnimmo Bassey, director of Mother Earth Health Foundation in Nigeria. "We have to stop that where it is. They are trying to use Africa as a major laboratory for testing risky technologies. "
Some experts believe that adding GM mice to natural ecosystems can harm other plants and animals that depend on them. experiments opposes criticism, saying it works and that potential side effects are offset by the benefits of eradicating malaria
At present, scientists are targeting only one species of mosquito than hundreds, and several more years of research and counseling are planned before the genetically modified mozzies ever to be released
"There will be concerns with every technology," one research team, Tony Nolan of Imperial College London in the UK, told NPR.
"But I do not think you have to throw away technology without doing everything in your power to find out what its potential to be transformational for medicine, to work, it will be transforming."