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Mosquito CRISPR Control

A CRISPR-based approach may help keep biting mosquitos at bay, the Economist reports.

It notes that mosquitos can carry a range of diseases, including malaria and dengue fever, and that researchers from the University of California, Santa Barbara, have been examining whether CRISPR can improve a mosquito-control method known as sterile insect technique. Through that approach — which has been used on screwworm flies and fruit flies — sterile males are released into the wild to mate with female insects, but produce no offspring, leading to a population decline, it adds.

In the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, UCSB's Craig Montell and his colleagues report on how they used CRISPR-Cas9 to disrupt the B2t gene that affects male fertility among Aedes aegypti mosquitos. They reasoned that this approach might be better suited for mosquito control, as other mutagenic approaches used to render mosquitos infertile are nonspecific and have wider effects on their health. When they exposed wild-type female Ae. aegypti to both B2t mutant and wild-type males, they found a decrease in female fertility, suggesting this approach could be effective in limiting mosquito population sizes.

Montell tells the Economist that the results are encouraging, but that there is more work to do before any field trials.

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.