Scientists at the University of Arizona have made outstanding progress on stopping malaria in its tracks. Led by scientist Michael Riehle, the scientists have had incredible success developing malaria-free mosquitoes.
How does one make a malaria-free mosquito? This works two ways: First, we know that malaria is caused by a parasite that the mosquito carries. The mosquito transfers this parasite to humans when she bites them. So, the scientists were able to create mosquitoes that can no longer be infected with malaria and cannot transfer it to humans. Second, only mature mosquitoes can carry the malaria parasite. The scientists were able to create mosquitoes that do not live long enough to carry the disease.
Now they just have to spread these new and improved mosquitoes to the entire mosquito population. Easier said than done! Using only the modified mosquitoes can take up to 10 to 20 years, according to the article. Despite this timeframe, “researchers are optimistic that genetic engineering of mosquitoes will be an important piece of the malaria-prevention puzzle.”
Until then, let’s keep spreading the buzz to send nets and save lives so we can reach the United Nations goal of ending malaria deaths by 2015.