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Genetic editing may help world become free from mosquitoes

Editing of mosquito genes could render them incapable of recognising human beings

World over people are troubled by mosquitoes who apart from being irritating are carriers of deadly diseases, including malaria. Though use of coils and repellent sprays provides relief from these tiny insects, the relief alas is temporary as they return soon.

Like in many other spheres of life, again science has come to our rescue. Scientists may have achieved a breakthrough of sorts when it comes to reducing mosquito infestation.

In the medical journal Current Biology there is a report that states that by editing the genes of mosquitoes one can render them incapable of spotting human beings. This will be very helpful as it will eliminate the possibility of people getting affected by mosquito bites.

By using a gene editing tool which is known as Crisp-Case-Nine, a team of scientists based in California are attempting to disable the light sensing receptors of mosquitoes. This basically means making them ineffective and crippling them. Once the mosquitos are unable to detect humans anymore they will cease to be of any threat or danger to people.

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The study paper was designed by the researchers to understand how female Aedes aegypti recognize humans visually.

Their findings bring to the fore that inactivating the Opsin1 (Op1) and Opsin2 (Op2) receptors disrupts the ability of the mosquito Aedes aegypti to recognize dark targets, which mosquitoes will explore to determine if they are hosts.

Craig Montell, Professor of molecular, cellular, and developmental biology at the University of California, Santa Barbara said: “We found that when we introduce mutations that knock out two of the five opsins in the mosquito’s eye, we eliminate CO2-induced target recognition without causing blindness.”

The findings could have broad implications. According to postdoctoral fellow and lead author of the study Yinpeng Zhan: “Vision plays an important role in detecting a potential host for blood-feeding insects such as mosquitoes, kissing bugs, tsetse flies, and ticks.” As all of these serve as vectors for human illnesses.

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