Friday, November 27, 2015

Engineering Mosquitoes’ Genes to Resist Malaria

A female anopheles stephensi mosquito, a species predominant in Asia that spreads malaria.  
CreditDavid Scharf/Science Source
In a basement on the Irvine campus of the University of California, behind a series of five protective doors, two teams of biologists have created a novel breed of mosquito that they hope will help eradicate malaria from the world. The mosquito has been engineered to carry two ingenious genetic modifications. One is a set of genes that spew out antibodies to the malarial parasite harbored by the mosquito. Mosquitoes with these genes are rendered resistant to the parasite and so cannot spread malaria.......The other modification is a set of genetic elements known as a gene drive that should propel the malaria-resistance genes throughout a natural mosquito population. When a malaria-resistant male mosquito mates with a wild female, the gene drive copies both itself and the resistance genes over from the male chromosome to its female counterpart........Kevin Esvelt, an expert on the gene drive technique at Harvard, said he was delighted with the work of the two teams. “We have a wonderful chance of knocking down malaria and dengue fever and other diseases, so hats off to Tony James, who has been developing these techniques for 15 years,”.......To Read More....

My Take - This has very real potential, and if you have a heart you must hope this will come into being soon - and work - saving untold millions of lives and preventing hundreds of millions from being sickened. However - let's try and keep this in mind. The greenies will be as much against this as they are DDT because this is a genetically modified organism, to which they are universally and unilaterally opposed. There will some hemming and hawing, but no matter what they may say on the surface - underneath they will hate it. Furthermore, if this works it will not end the DDT argument. We must understand that! Why? Because DDT is foundational to everything the greenies have in way of influence and money. That argument must - and will - always be fought. If it isn't DDT, it's carbamates, organophosphates, neonicotinoids and any other pesticide category on the market. DDT gave them an illegitimate credibility they will never abandon. We must not abandon our support for DDT even if it's no longer necessary to save lives, otherwise they win an argument that will resonate in other environmental arenas. They lied and people died - that's the real story - that's the story that must be repeated. We must win the battle of emotion as well as the battle of facts in order to win the war to protect humanity against these misanthropes.

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