Monday, March 5, 2012

Malaria proof mosquitoes

A 'malaria proof' mosquito' would be an valuable tool in the fight against malaria. It looks like scientists have created just such a mosquito - through a combination of disrupting the parasite development and reducing the mosquitoes lifesapn (as we discussed in class). Now all we need is a way to give such mosquitoes a competitive edge so that they replace the
 native mosquitoes...

It was known that the Akt enzyme is involved in the mosquito's growth rate and immune response, among other things," Riehle said. "So we went ahead with this genetic construct to see if we can ramp up Akt function and help the insects' immune system fight off the malaria parasite."
The second rationale behind this approach was to use Akt signaling to stunt the mosquitoes' growth and cut down on its lifespan.
"In the wild, a mosquito lives for an average of two weeks," Riehle explained. "Only the oldest mosquitoes are able to transmit the parasite. If we can reduce the lifespan of the mosquitoes, we can reduce the number of infections."

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