21st Century Innovations : Using CRISPR CAS-9 to target mosquito-spread diseases!

A possible solution to end all mosquito-spread diseases ?!


Researchers at the BBSRC-funded Pirbright Institute have successfully applied the CRISPR CAS 9, a gene-editing tool to the southern house mosquitoes.




This tool was created by Professor Emanuelle Charpentier,an honorary professor at Humboldt University,Germany who received the Nobel Prize award in Chemistry last year jointly with her colleague Dr Jennifer Doudna of UC Berkeley, USA for their work on CRISPR.


Cas 9 is a 160 kilodalton protein which plays a vital role in the immunological defense of certain bacteria against DNA viruses and plasmids, and is heavily utilized in genetic engineering applications. Its main function is to cut DNA and thereby alter a cell's genome. Scientists had successfully harness this ability from Cas 9 proteins from bacteria and applied it to gene editing - now famously known as CRISPR-Cas 9


The results have been published in the Scientific Reports. Scientists showed that a method involving this gene editing tool could be used to successfully introduce a gene for a fluorescent protein into the genome of southern house mosquitoes. The gene could be passed on to the next generation through mating. Scientists targeted an eye colour gene for the insertion site of the fluorescence gene so mosquitoes that inherited two edited genes from their parents would have white eyes, not black. Both these traits make it easier for scientists to easily identify mosquitoes whose genomes have been modified.

It was discovered that mosquitoes that had white eyes (which had inherited two copies of the edited gene) did not survive into adulthood. Interestingly,this effect is not seen when the same method has been applied in other species and highlights differences between mosquito genomes. This test has proved that this method could potentially work and be a viable method of mosquito control.

Professor Luke Alphey,the Head of the Arthropod Genetics group at Pirbright commented “Other methods for genetically engineering the southern house mosquito have been attempted, but none of them work well enough to be useful in the field.” He is also confident that “This CRISPR/Cas9 method overcomes previous difficulties and opens up a whole new avenue for scientists to generate genetic pest management strategies.

In conclusion, CRISPR-Cas 9 could be another great method for reducing the mortal threat posed by mosquitoes in addition to creating vaccines. There is a beacon of hope that this method could be used for genetic control to prevent mosquitoes from spreading human and animal diseases.


References /Further Reading(s) :

  • UKRI Article

https://www.ukri.org/news/scientists-use-gene-editing-tool-to-target-mosquito-spread-disease/

  • Manufacturing Chemist-About the CRISPR’s creator

https://www.manufacturingchemist.com/news/article_page/Creator_of_CRISPR-Cas9_awarded_Nobel_Prize_in_Chemistry/170497


  • Cas 9 Protein Wikipedia Information

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cas9


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