Spermless mosquitoes could help halt malaria spread


Kate Kelland
Reuters
August 8, 2011

(Reuters) – Releasing genetically modified, spermless male mosquitoes into the wild could in future help to prevent malaria transmission and reduce the chances of large outbreaks of the killer disease, British scientists said on Monday.

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Researchers from Imperial College London sterilized male mosquitoes by genetically modifying them to neutralize a gene required for sperm production.

In a study to see how these mosquitoes would fare when trying to get a mate, they found that female mosquitoes cannot tell if the males they mate with are fertile, or spermless and therefore unable to fertilize the females’ eggs.

The researchers said findings suggest that in future it might be possible to control the size of the malaria-carrying mosquito population by introducing a genetic change that makes males sterile. Female mosquitoes would then unknowingly mate with the modified males and fail to produce any offspring.

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