Mosquitoes spread malaria that kills an estimated 429,000 people every year. Many of them are children, so this new method of killing mosquito populations has sparked a huge interest. Scientists from Imperial College London managed to eliminate a population of breeding mosquitoes in a laboratory using a gene drive.

Professor Andrea Crisanti co-led the research. The gene drive is, is a technical solution that allows a genetic qualification to be spread from few individuals to an entire population. That modification involved disrupting a gene that determines sexual differentiation. So in this way, a genetic female, if you destroy this gene, cannot develop into a female but develop in something between a male and a female that we call intersex. These individuals cannot bite, so which is very good, cannot lay egg and so it cannot reproduce itself. That inability to reproduce spread across the mosquitoes and the entire population died off within eleven generations. The big question is whether that success can be replicated outside the laboratory.

We already done we moved this mosquito in large confined space which mimicked completely the tropical environments. Then after this is completed…this phase will also be crucial to gather a lot of information for regulatory purpose for simple about safety, stability, ability of the gene drive to move across the species. Scientists say reassuring the public about the safety of this powerful technique is paramount. It’s hoped that gene drive can be tested in the wild within five to ten years. New tools in the fight against malaria are urgently needed. As the World Health Organization says, global progress against the disease is stalling.

Henry Ridgwell, the VOA News, London.