Attention everyone, what if we told you that there is a way to potentially wipe out the bad mosquito species that causes malaria? Scientists have developed a genetic weapon, a self replicating bit of DNA called a gene drive, that interferes with the mosquitoes ability to reproduce. This can be revolutionary and save millions of children’s lives in the future.
What is malaria
How it works
Gene drives work starts with taking one transgenic organism into the lab so it can be modified. It then can be engineered for release into wild populations to spread an altered allele. Two types of drives are possible: modification drives spread an advantageous gene, while suppression drives spread a gene that reduces the population. As the gene spreads this ultimately allows for the death of mosquitoes to spread exponentially. This topic also relates to what we learned in the AP Biology units on genetics and DNA. The connection to genetics is evident in the ability to control breeding of species, such as mosquitoes, using the knowledge of Punnett squares and the principles of dominant and recessive traits. However, the most significant connection between genetics and mosquito control lies in the ability to manipulate and alter DNA.
Gene drives can potentially save millions of lives by reducing mosquito populations and preventing the spread of malaria. The technology is being tested in Africa, where malaria is most prevalent. Soon it will hopefully be around the entire world and save millions of lives all together.