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Tech Based on CRISPR to Control Growth of Mosquitoes

Tech Based on CRISPR to Control Growth of Mosquitoes

Context:

  • Leveraging advancements in CRISPR-based genetic engineering, researchers have created a system that restrains populations of mosquitoes that infect millions each year with debilitating diseases.

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Precision-guided sterile insect technique:

  • The “precision-guided sterile insect technique” (pgSIT), alters genes linked to male fertility—creating sterile offspring—and female flight in Aedes aegypti.

  • Aedes aegypti is the mosquito species responsible for spreading diseases including dengue fever, chikungunya and Zika.

  • The pgSIT uses CRISPR to sterilise male mosquitoes and render female mosquitoes (which spread disease) flightless.

  • The system is self-limiting and is not predicted to persist or spread in the environment, two safety features that should enable acceptance for this technology.

Acceptance for this technology:

  • The scientists say pgSIT eggs can be shipped to a location threatened by mosquito-borne disease or developed at an on-site facility that could produce the eggs for nearby deployment.

  • Once the pgSIT eggs are released in the wild, sterile pgSIT males will emerge and eventually mate with females, driving down the wild population as needed.

CRISPR Technology

  • CRISPR/Cas9 (Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats) is a technology that allows for the editing of genes within organisms.

  • It allows scientists to edit genomes, but CRISPR has become the most prominently known because when used in combination with the Cas9 protein, it gives scientists a kind of precision never before seen.

  • Not only can it be used on animals or simpler forms of life, but it can also be used on human beings. Key here is that the precision of CRISPR allows it to make cuts in the gene that had previously been impossible by other technologies.

  • This precision carries enormous repercussions not just for the future of medicine but also for the future of humanity as a species.

Source: Indian Express