Role Of Mosquitos

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We now possess the technology to utilise genetic engineering to eradicate humanity’s deadliest predator. Malaria was responsible for infecting over 200 million people, whilst causing 438 000 deaths in 2015 alone, (World Health Organisation 2016) and is responsible for over a thousand deaths every day, being possibly the single biggest killer of humans in history.

Malaria is transmitted by the female Anopheles mosquito infected with Plasmodium Parasites. There are many Malaria parasites but the major ones that infect humans are P. Malariae, P. Ovale, P. Falciparum and P. Vivax. (Mueller et al., 2007) The female mosquito feeds on a human, injecting Sporozoites into the blood which then enter hepatocytes. The Sporozoites
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This is due to the fact that genes theoretically only have a 50% chance of being passed on to offspring, meaning that only half of the offspring will carry the gene after two generations. In such a large population of mosquitos, there would be very little difference made. There has been some success in the reduction of local populations of mosquitos (Marshall and Hay, 2012), but there remains the difficulty of controlling mosquitos and Malaria on a large scale.

In nature, there are some genes that have a greater chance of being inherited, even if they cause an evolutionary disadvantage. The idea of artificially producing genes that force offspring to inherit them has been around for a long time was first mentioned by Carey Curtis (Curtis, 1968) and more recently, by Albert Bert, in the form of ‘site-specific ‘homing’ endonuclease genes’ (Bert 2003) Yet it was not until the invention of the CRISPR-CAS9 system that the use of Gene Drives was feasible. (Esvelt et al.,
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Examples include Lyme disease which is spread by ticks and has been estimated to cause up to 3000 new cases in England and Wales each year. (NHS 2016) There is also the Plaque, which is transmitted by Fleas as well as the Zika virus which has been receiving much public attention over the past year. According to the WHO, Zika is currently in 73 countries and is believed to cause Microcephaly (WHO 2016). In terms of Malaria, there have already been numerous laboratories that have reported engineering mosquitos to be immune to the Malaria parasite (Isaacs et al.,

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