A lasting solution has been found by expert scientists and researchers at a discreet laboratory in Terni, Italy to the spread of diseases and infections such as malaria, zika and dengue fever.
This solution include modifying the mosquitoes genetically by mutating the female insects’ gene(DNA) which could neutralize the female characteristics and shrink the bugs mouth so they cannot be able to bite humans and transmit diseases thus making them possess some male attributes as female mosquitoes are the main vectors of the disease. This genetic tweaking makes the mosquito sterile and ‘a kind of hermaphrodite ‘.
According to WHO statistics, there were 429000 deaths in 2015 alone with around 212 million cases who are at risk of contacting malaria. An expert scientist, Tony Nolan , who helped develop the mosquitoes at imperial college London says ‘malaria is a huge problem affecting probably two-thirds of the world’s population’.
Ruth Mueller, an insect expert (entomologist), says a technique called CRISPR could edit the mosquitoes’ genes which also helps in cutting and pasting DNA. This technique edits the DNA in a unique way by ensuring that extra male behaviors are passed on to all offsprings. As a result of this alteration, the effect will continue to spread and compound until offsprings from 2 mutated mosquito parents will not be able to bite humans or procreate. Although there have been criticisms against the initiative by animal and environmental activists, but Dr. Mueller insists that the genetically modified mosquitoes would only affect one of hundreds of mosquito species. Experts are of a strong opinion that the test is ethical because it is kept in a regulated environment and the sample mosquitoes are kept in secure conditions. Once the research is concluded successfully, the sample mosquitoes would be released into African villages, where they would reduce the insect population drastically by spreading their self -destruct gene. The National Public Radio also added that as subsequent female mosquitoes inherit two copies of modification, they’ll increasingly become sterile.
Drugs containing NPY-like receptors when given to the parasite were less likely to bite and extract blood when they were presented with a human arm according to research carried out in March 2019 by the Rockefeller University in New York and orchestrated by Professor Leslie Vosshall, from the laboratory of neurogenetics and behavior. These receptors control appetite and are used in anti-obesity treatments in most living things such as round worms and humans. Some peptides containing proteins have been shown to activate the NPY-like receptors thus reducing the mosquito’s appetite after she feeds from her host.
Tweaking the creature’s sexual development could save a lot of lives around the world especially in Africa where it is most dominant according to a report by National Public Radio (NPR). Some advocates of this initiative, including The Bill and Melinda Gates foundation, have expressed optimism stating that the benefits outweighs the disadvantages, of which pollination issues is included.