To Fight Malaria, Scientists Try Genetic Engineering To Wipe Out Mosquitoes
Hammond’s team is genetically engineering the Anopheles gambiae mosquito, which is the primary species that spreads the malaria parasite. Nearly all of the offspring of the modified mosquitoes inherit mutations that knock out the genes females need to make eggs.
“If we can sterilize the females,” he says, we “can actually eliminate a whole mosquito population without affecting those mosquitoes that don’t have the capability to transmit malaria.”
Many scientists think gene drives could have their biggest impact on agriculture. Gene drives might, for example, enable researchers to quickly transform entire crops so that farmers don’t need to use polluting pesticides.
“This is our chance to solve some of the world’s most pressing problems using biology,” says Kevin Esvelt, a gene-drive researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
But critics worry gene drives are just too powerful and could easily produce unintended consequences.
Michael Crichton (published 2007)
But forget the costs: why should people or companies own a disease in the first place? They didn’t invent it. Yet today, more than 20 human pathogens are privately owned, including haemophilus influenza and Hepatitis C. And we’ve already mentioned that tests for the BRCA genes for breast cancer cost $3,000. Oh, one more thing: if you undergo the test, the company that owns the patent on the gene can keep your tissue and do research on it without asking your permission. Don’t like it? Too bad.
VLA COMMENT: Today researchers have found that the “natural childhood diseases” such as measles, chickenpox protect against cancer. So they are genetically engineering the natural virus, patenting it and thereby owning it, as a means to cure some cancers. See more…
Lucas Meagu was at high risk of inheriting a rare form of muscular dystrophy. Lucas’ mother Carmen, 26, who works in recruitment, inherited Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease from her father who suffered with the illness all his life.
The genes responsible for Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease were isolated. Doctors took DNA swabs from Mrs Meagu, her mother and Lucas’s father Gabriel, 30, who works for Vodafone.They then compared the gene sequences at 300,000 different points of the chromosomes to work out which section of genetic code was defective and responsible for the abnormality.The couple then underwent a normal IVF cycle but, crucially, the embryos created from the procedure were biopsied to find out which ones were free of the genetic disease. Read more…