It seems that the science behind genetic modification and genetic engineering may also help in our fight to control the spread of diseases in the future. Although genetic modification today is mainly focused on the agricultural sector by producing genetically modified plants that are better and sturdier than their organic counterparts, scientists have now been eyeing using the same technology in order to help contain the spread of disease such as malaria.
Researchers at the Johns Hopkins University have been able to develop a strain of malaria free mosquitoes that were able to have a higher survival rate compared to the non-resistant mosquitoes when they fed on lab mice that was infected with malaria. The study was able to show that the genetically modified mosquitoes were able to replace the less resistant malaria carrier mosquitoes when released, allowing more disease resistant mosquitoes to thrive in a malaria infested environment. This will help contain the spread of the said disease into other areas by limiting the carriers of the disease by making them more resistant to malaria.
Although the said study was just to show in principle how effective such a practice in disease containment can be, hundreds of field tests may still be necessary before such applications may be put to wide use. But such a study proves nonetheless that there are other novel ways available that may be able to help scientists win their battle against the spread of highly infectious and deadly diseases such as malaria.
An estimated 2.7 million people die of malaria all over the world annually. It is a disease that may need to be controlled or contained in order to reduce the possible casualties. It makes it even more difficult for scientists to effectively control its spread since its active carriers are air-borne and can go long distances in such a short time. That is why some researchers were able to think up of creating genetically modified mosquito strains resistant to malaria as a way to contain such a disease.
This new development not only shows the possibility of controlling the spread of malaria by airborne mosquitoes, it might also help prevent other mosquito-borne diseases such as the West Nile virus, which has recently become a more noticeable seasonal fixture in the US. Just like malaria, West Nile disease can also be spread by mosquitoes that have bitten a migratory bird infected by the said virus. This new approach in controlling disease through genetic modification may better arm researchers with new ways to battle the diseases out there that have proven to be fatal and may have decimated large numbers of the human population all over the world.