What for are useful genetically modified mosquitoes ?
Everybody knows that malaria is caused by a parasite called Plasmodium and mosquitoes are the carriers for true cause of malaria. Malaria kills one to three million people every year, most of whom are children. With the help of modern genetics and molecular biology, scientists have produced strains of genetically engineered mosquitoes that cannot transmit the malarial parasite.
Genetically modified mosquitoes carry a modified gene - a transgene. This gene produces chemicals which interfere with Plasmodium's development. Rather than being suitable carriers, the bodies of the modified mosquitoes spell death for any invading Plasmodium. To actually reduce the burden of malaria, the genetic changes that induce malaria resistance need to be spread throughout the mosquito population.
They are the first genetically modified mosquitoes to be resistant to the parasite Plasmodium, through a transformation of their immune system.
Over 300 million new cases of malaria are diagnosed each year worldwide and nearly one million people die from this disease, the victims are, in particular, children and babies from Africa.
U.S. researchers have created two groups of genetically modified mosquitoes. In the first group, the gene that causes destruction of Plasmodium falciparum by the insect's immune system, was activated in intestinal tissues, where the parasite initially settled.
In the second group of mosquitoes, genetic modification resulted in activation of the immune system against parasite at the level of an organ of mosquito which performs the functions of the liver. Geneticists from the John Hopkins currently trying to obtain a genetically modified mosquito whose immune system to intervene in the both organs.
Researchers currently working on the design of various techniques for dissemination of bacteria in the populations of mosquitoes in nature. However, the techniques of genetic modification of malaria vector, although promising in combating this disease, not enough. Researchers consider that they would need many other "weapons" to defeat malaria.