To address this problem, the University of California is using CRISPR/Cas9 – the world’s most efficient gene editing tool to date – to genetically modify these mosquitoes to become not only resistant of malaria, but to subsequently carry the gene modification to newer generations of mosquitoes.
“The study underlines the growing utility of the Crispr method, a powerful gene editing tool that allows access to a cell’s nucleus to snip DNA to either replace mutated genes or insert new ones.”
– UCI News
The success rate of gene crossover is at 95%, making CRISPR/Cas9 one of the most important tools developed thus far in combating malaria. Not to be confused as a cure, it’s certainly the most effective weapon in our arsenal to date.
The ability to use advanced gene-editing tools to combat disease is only a fairly recent development. Before CRIPSR/Cas9, we had gene-editing tools such as TALEN and RNAi, but none of which acquired the precision that CRISPR is now commonly known for. Using it to help modify mosquitoes is merely the beginning. We’re only now growing accustomed to the idea of using gene-editing tools to help humans become resistant to diseases, such as malaria, but eventually it’ll become our savior.
In the near future, whether government regulatory agencies like it or not, gene-editing tools such as CRISPR/Cas9 will become open-sourced for the entire population to benefit from and will effectively make our species immune to diseases such as cancer, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, diabetes, etc. Of course, these tools could also be used by those whom may have more nefarious motives. How we ensure everyone benefits from gene-editing without it falling into the hands of extremists, like Daesh, will certainly be one of the most debated questions in the next few years. Regardless of the outcome, any conversation which doesn’t include gene-editing, or attempts to blacklist the use of gene-editing tools, will most certainly be ignored given the overwhelming benefits that’ll arise from it.