Malaria is caused by a mosquito-borne parasite transmitted to people through the bites of infected female Anopheles mosquitoes. This disease is one of the fatal human diseases, but scientists have developed mosquitoes that slow down the growth of malaria. Malaria is the most devastating human disease. Increasing insecticide-resistant mosquitoes and drug-resistant parasites brought progress in reducing cases and reducing fatality.
Genetic modification by Scientists:
The genetic modification in mosquitoes produces compounds in their guts that decrease parasites’ growth. These parasites are unlikely to reach mosquito salivary glands and be passed on in a bite before the insects die. This technique reduces the possibility of spreading malaria.
Gene drives hold promise for the genetic control of malaria vectors. Gene drive was a new ongoing strategy based on the super-Mendelian spread of endonuclease genes. Antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) from reptiles, plants, or insects are considered to be antimalarial effectors and they were tested in vitro and in vivo for their efficiency against different parasites.
But AMPs are different in sequence and structure, where some are cationic and amphiphilic, which adhere to negatively charged microbial membranes and, to a lesser extent, to membranes of animal cells.
The Permeabilization mechanism is put forward that causes pore formation or accumulation of peptides on the microbial surface, disrupting a detergent-like manner. The subset of AMPs has interfered directly with mitochondria-dependent adenosine triphosphate(ATP) synthesis by mitochondrial uncoupling.
Zero team of Imperial College London is arranged for work on existing “gene drive” technology to spread modification and reduce chances of malaria transmission.
Some of the collaborators from the Institute for Disease Modeling at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation developed a model first time that can assess the effect of modifications if used in various African settings.
Zero team found the modification developed by transmission as they can bring down malaria cases even with a high transmission. The result of the modification technology in the lab and the modeling are published in Science Advances.
Delaying the parasite’s development helps in decreasing the spread of malaria disease:
Malaria is one of the world’s most destructive diseases risking about half of the world’s population. In 2021 about 241 million people were infected, and 627,000 people, most affected, were children below five years old in sub-Saharan Africa.
Dr. Tibebu Habetwold, the co-first author from the department of Life Sciences at Imperial, said: “since 2015, the progress In tackling malaria has stalled. Mosquitoes and parasites they carry are becoming resistant to available interventions such as insecticides and treatments, and funding has plateaued. We need to develop innovative new tools.”
This disease spreads among people when a female mosquito bites someone infected with the malaria parasite. Then the parasite develops into the next stage in the mosquito’s gut and travels to its salivary glands, which are ready to infect the next person the mosquito bites.
Team zero modified the malaria carrier species of mosquito in sub-Saharan Africa: Anopheles Gambiae. When a mosquito takes a blood meal, it produces two molecules known as antimicrobial peptides in its guts.
These peptides, originally derived from honeybees and African clawed frogs retard the malaria parasite’s development. It causes a few days delay before the next parasite reaches mosquito salivary glands, by which time where most mosquitoes in nature are expected to die.
The parasite interferes with the parasite’s energy metabolism, causing some effects on the mosquito, shortening its life span, and decreasing its ability to pass on the parasite.
Another mode of action in the eradication of malarial spread:
In Tanzania, the team has set up a facility to bring about and handle genetically modified mosquitoes and conduct some tests, including collecting parasites from locally affected school children to ensure the modification works against the parasites circulating in relevant communities.
Co-leader author Professor George Christophides said: “History has taught us that there is no silver bullet when it comes to malaria control, thus we will have to use all the weapons we have at our disposal and generate even more.”
“Gene drive is one such very powerful weapon that in combination with drugs, vaccines and mosquito control can help stop the spread of malaria and save human lives.”
Gene drive is a genetic trick that can be added to mosquitoes causing anti-parasite genetic modification to be preferentially inherited, spreading widely among natural populations.
- Astrid Hoermann, Tibebu Habtewold, Prashanth Selvaraj, Giuseppe Del Corsano, Paolo Capriotti, Maria Grazia Inghilterra, Temesgen M. Kebede, George K. Christophides And Nikolai Windbichler. Gene drive mosquitoes can aid malaria elimination by retarding Plasmodium Sporogonic development. Science Advances 21 Sep 2022 Vol 8, Issue 38 DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abo1733