Harare: A team of researchers at John Hopkins University in Baltimore in the United States has developed genetically modified mosquitoes resistant to a malaria parasite giving hope that one day it will be possible to mitigate the third biggest killer disease in Africa.
According to the proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the genetically modified mosquitoes outbred natural mosquitoes when fed malaria-infected blood from mice, the Herald newspaper reported.
Researchers at the university say the new study offers a way of controlling malaria by introducing the genetically altered insects into the wild and having them outgrow their natural cousins in the wild.
The new study found out that the GM mosquito survived in large numbers and laid more eggs. After nine generations, the researchers said, 70% of the mosquitoes were genetically modified compared with 50% at the beginning of the experiment.
The new study opens new avenues for malaria-control programmes and may with time offer an alternative approach to the control of the disease that kills up to 2.7 million people every year out of the estimated 300 million to 500 million cases reported across the world.
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that countries in sub-Saharan Africa account for about 90% of the deaths, mostly in children under the age of five.
Malaria accounts for 10% of Africa’s disease burden and malaria costs the continent more than $12 billion every year in treatment costs.