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Gene Drive System in Mosquitoes for Malaria Control

A team led by researchers from the University of California, Irvine, has engineered mosquitoes to produce antimalaria antibodies. In a new study appearing in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the authors describe a Cas9/guide-RNA-based gene drive system coupled to genes that code for antibodies targeting P. falciparum, the parasite that causes malaria in humans. When the gene drive system was introduced into two mosquito strains — Anopheles gambiae and Anopheles coluzzii — that can transmit the disease, the researchers saw P. falciparum antibodies in the insects' midguts and circulatory systems. They further introduced P. falciparum gametocytes into the transgenic mosquitoes and found that the transgenic insects carried fewer oocysts and sporozoites, as compared to normal mosquitoes. Subsequent modeling experiments also showed that the gene drive could reduce human infection by 50 percent to 90 percent within one to four months, in certain cases, and the results could last for three years. "These or similar strains are viable candidates for future field trials in a malaria- endemic region," the researchers write. The findings support further development of the antibody-producing gene drive as a malaria control strategy, they add.

The Scan

Positive Framing of Genetic Studies Can Spark Mistrust Among Underrepresented Groups

Researchers in Human Genetics and Genomics Advances report that how researchers describe genomic studies may alienate potential participants.

Small Study of Gene Editing to Treat Sickle Cell Disease

In a Novartis-sponsored study in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers found that a CRISPR-Cas9-based treatment targeting promoters of genes encoding fetal hemoglobin could reduce disease symptoms.

Gut Microbiome Changes Appear in Infants Before They Develop Eczema, Study Finds

Researchers report in mSystems that infants experienced an enrichment in Clostridium sensu stricto 1 and Finegoldia and a depletion of Bacteroides before developing eczema.

Acute Myeloid Leukemia Treatment Specificity Enhanced With Stem Cell Editing

A study in Nature suggests epitope editing in donor stem cells prior to bone marrow transplants can stave off toxicity when targeting acute myeloid leukemia with immunotherapy.