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Genetically-engineered spermless mosquitoes help curb malaria

08-10-2011 14:47 BJT

BEIJING, Aug. 10 (Xinhuanet) -- European scientists are turning to a unique solution to stem the tide of malaria infection worldwide by breeding boy spermless bugs, according to media reports Wednesday.

A study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences showed that researchers in Italy and the U.K. were able to genetically modify male Anopheles mosquitoes so that they wouldn't produce sperm.

The bugs would still produce seminal fluid, so mating rituals would go on as usual, but the fruit of coupling would be sterile eggs that don't hatch, the study showed.

"If mosquitoes [don't] produce any progeny...the number of mosquitoes in the wild will be reduced, eventually reducing the chances of malaria transmission," said co-author on the study Dr. Flaminia Catteruccia, of the Imperial College in London.

Though there are thousands of mosquito species, only a handful of them can transmit malaria, Catteruccia said, so targeting these species has the potential to reduce the spread of disease and is less likely to negatively impact the local ecosystem.

More than 225 million people worldwide suffer from malaria. Each year, nearly 800,000 people will die from the disease, many of whom are children living in Africa.

"Given the constant spread of the disease, alternative approaches to the use of insecticides are urgently needed," the study's authors wrote.

Editor:Wang Xiaomei |Source: Xinhua

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