Scientists close to combating malaria21st April 2011
Scientists believe they have moved a step closer to combating malaria.
Researchers from Imperial College London and the University of Washington, in Seattle, say they are nearer being able to change the DNA of wild mosquitoes.
In findings published in the journal Nature they revealed how they made a gene spread from a small number of mosquitoes to most of the population in just a few generations.
If the right gene can be made to spread, it could have an impact on helping reduce the number of cases of malaria.
Professor Andrea Crisanti, from the department of life sciences at Imperial College London, said: “This is an exciting technological development, one which I hope will pave the way for solutions to many global health problems.
“At the beginning I was really quite sceptical and thought it probably would not work, but the results are so encouraging that I'm starting to change my mind.”
A leading expert from the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine said the findings amounted to an exciting breakthrough.
However, Professor Janet Hemingway suggested that the technique was still some way off being used against wild mosquitoes.
But she said: “This is a major step forward providing technology that may be used in a cost effective format to drive beneficial genes through mosquito populations from relatively small releases.”
According to World Health Organisation data, malaria was believed to be responsible for nearly one million deaths in 2008.
A number of studies are under way using genes to disrupt the malaria parasite’s development.
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Title: Scientists close to combating malaria
Author: Mark Nicholls
Article Id: 18291
Date Added: 21st Apr 2011