(Mirror Daily, United States) – Mosquitos have, are and will be one of the most dangerous, pesky, annoying and darn right useless insects in the world. Of course, not all of the 3000 species, only the 200 that bite humans and spread terrible diseases like Zika. People have tried to keep their population under control and avoid being bitten, but we presently have the technology of eradicating them altogether. So the logical question is are mosquitos that important in the environment?
So are mosquitos that important in the environment? Is that one single species, the Aedes aegypti so crucial to nature’s design that we can’t obliterate it out of existence and forget about awful life-altering diseases like Zika?
If we would decide to put to good use current gene-altering technology there would be no more Zika, malaria or Dengue fever in a matter of years because there would be no more carriers.
Out of the thousands of species of mosquitos we would only exterminate two or three that are already actively wreaking havoc among the human population.
The mosquitos are not the Pinta Island tortoises, nor are they white rhinos or Tasmanian tigers. They don’t have to be protected and there are plenty of other insects and other mosquitos that could fill the gap left by the Aedes aegypti or the Anopheles gambiae in the natural scheme of things.
As E.O. Wilson, biodiversity champion and American biologist said, we could store their DNA in a lab somewhere where it could be accessed by researchers and that is that. No more Zika, Dengue fever or malaria. No more unnecessary deaths or hydrocephaly.
A brilliant evolutionary geneticist at London’s Imperial College, Austin Burt, discovered the “gene drive”. It is a process that modifies certain genes of an animal and improves others. But this is old news. They just weren’t able to put the discovery to use because the process of gene manipulation and altering was extremely costly and lengthy at the time.
Lucky for all of us, a new cheap, fast, and accurate editing tool for genes, the CRISPR/Cas9 is now available on the market and they are actively working on the “gene drive” process.
Of course, they already perfected the technique on mosquitos. Furthermore, Oxitex, the creating and exploiting company of the new editing tool for genes is already experimenting in Brazil with the Aedes aegyti, the Zika and Dengue fever spreading mosquito.
According to them, they managed to modify their DNA so that after they reproduce, the larvae produced by the female do not have the chance of growing into fully developed mosquitos. Basically the scientists have rendered the mosquitos incapable of reproduction.
But it will take a lot more resources and a couple of years before the Aedes aegyti is completely eradicated. Nonetheless, it will be quicker than the 10 years it will take the researchers to develop a viable vaccine.
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