Around 1 million people die each year from malaria, most of them children, from a parasitic infection transmitted by mosquitoes. Researchers have created a mosquito that is unable to infect humans with malaria.
The University of Arizona team reported that their genetically modified mosquitoes are immune to the malaria-causing parasite, a single-cell organism called Plasmodium.
It may well possibly one day replace wild mosquitoes with lab-bred mosquitoes that cannot infect humans with malaria, researchers said.
"If you want to effectively stop the spreading of the malaria parasite, you need mosquitoes that are no less than 100 percent resistant to it. If a single parasite slips through and infects a human, the whole approach will be doomed to fail," research leader and entomology professor Michael Riehle said in a university news release.
Riehle and his colleagues tested their genetically-altered mosquitoes by feeding them malaria-infested blood. Not even one mosquito became infected with the malaria parasite.
"We were surprised at how well this works. We were just hoping to see some effect on the mosquitoes' growth rate, lifespan or their susceptibility to the parasite, but it was great to see that our construct blocked the infection process completely," Riehle said.
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