This little lady below weighs less than three milligrams, yet for millennia, she and her cousins have spread some of the deadliest diseases to plague humankind. Turns out, scientists are opening radically new pathways to solving this problem!
Through all of modern history the solutions to the problem of Malaria (and other mosquito-borne diseases) have been pretty simple: keep them from biting or kill all mosquitoes. But finally, we are taking the time to develop ways to cleverly lift their dangerous burden and leave the species intact! Today, we weigh these brilliant new options.
First, let’s start with a question: What’s your first impulse when it comes to the topic of mosquitoes?
You’ve most likely itched yourself into oblivion after being a meal for one of these ladies, and because of this, it may be a quick no-brainer to support the mass extinction of the mosquito. Wouldn’t life be better? We would eliminate the spread of some major diseases. No more of that itching or having an annoying whine in your ear while you’re trying to sleep. Sounds like a dream! Why aren’t we just making this happen?
Maybe there is more to consider. Could there be a solution to this life-threatening issue that wouldn’t shake up the delicate eco-systems that mosquitoes are a part of?
Here’s a quick synopsis of what scientists around the globe are doing to combat what these tiny suckers carry, brought to us by the fantastic channel, Sci Show.
It’s a bit mind-blowing to consider how far we’ve come. There are so many possibilities we could consider other than the mass extinction option we seem to jump to time and time again.
What could happen if we worked with nature? If we can cure the mosquitoes… could we cure ourselves?
As they mentioned briefly in the video, we can now alter genes! The very structures that make us who and what we are! A few weeks ago we introduced you to this genome editing technology called CRISPR, but if you missed the article, don’t worry, it’s right here:
This gene editing through CRISPR is still being tested as a way to team up with the Anopheles mosquito in order to stop the passing of the malaria parasite. Though, if all goes well, gene drive could be a key player in ending the transmission of the other deadly diseases from mosquitoes in the future.
“The real enemy is the parasite, not the mosquito,” said [Anthony] James, who led the new research. With this breakthrough “we can recruit the mosquito to help us out.” 2
It may seem a bit invasive, but it’s one way to keep both ourselves and the mosquito from being killed off. You can learn all about how this process works in this eye-opening article from Stat News (seriously, read this when you have a moment)!
It’s an amazing world because we have these options available to us. So, what do you believe should be the next step?
Keep yourself open and happiness may stay nearby.
Looking to discover a bit more today?
Take a peek at these two categories and you’ll have just a taste of the amazing progress that’s been made!
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- “What If We Killed All the Mosquitoes?” YouTube. SciShow, 19 Feb. 2016. Web. 08 Nov. 2017. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=278&v=e0NT9i4Qnak>. ↩
- Begley, Sharon. “Mosquito DNA Altered to Block Malaria, Not Spread It.” STAT. STAT News, 23 Aug. 2015. Web. 08 Nov. 2017. <https://www.statnews.com/2015/11/23/malaria-mosquitoes-gene-drive-crispr/>. ↩