According to University of California Irvine (UCI), United States (U.S.) scientists, one advantage of the development is that it can be applied to the dozens of different mosquito types that harbor and transmit the Plasmodium falciparum parasite, including those in Africa.
The genetically altered insect, a modified version of a mosquito species known to spread malaria in India and the Middle East, could be introduced into wild mosquito populations, the scientists said.
It would then reproduce, expanding its malaria-resistant genes throughout the population.
Anthony James and his colleagues from UCI and the Pasteur Institute in Paris have produced a model of the Anopheles stephensi mosquito- a major source of malaria in India and the Middle East — that impairs the development of the malaria parasite. These mosquitoes, inturn, cannot transmit the disease through their bites.
The researchers conceived their approach through mouse studies. Mice infected with the human form of malaria create antibodies that kill the parasite.
James’ team exploited the molecular components of this mouse immune-system response and engineered genes that could produce the same response in mosquitoes. In their model, antibodies are released in genetically modified mosquitoes that render the parasite harmless to others.