4 Sep 2021

Prof Ethan Bier: using mutated mosquitoes to control disease

From Saturday Morning, 9:35 am on 4 September 2021
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Photo: Supplied

Genetically engineered mosquitoes could be the key to winning the war against malaria, a disease that affects more than 200 million people every year and kills more than 400,000 - many of whom are children. 
The main tool is a gene drive: when scientists insert a gene drive into an organism, the organism passes that new gene to all its offspring, and the offspring do the same. In July, scientists based in an Italian lab reported that genetically modified Anopheles gambiae mosquitoes could wipe out their own species in an environment mimicking sub-Saharan Africa – showing for the first time how gene-drive technology works under ecologically challenging conditions. 
Ethan Bier is a distinguished professor in the section of Cell and Developmental Biology at UC San Diego, and is the head of the Bier Lab – where they focus research on active genetics, developmental patterning, and human disease mechanics. 

Anopheles gambiae.

Anopheles gambiae. Photo: AFP