Photo: University of Arizona
The Idea: For years, scientists have been trying to figure out a way to eradicate one of the world’s biggest health problems: malaria. Malaria medicine exists, but is not always available nor is it completely foolproof (not to mention how inconvenient it is to have to swallow all those pills). Mosquito nets are a solution, as well, but with the nets come the difficulties of distribution.The best solution is to eliminate the malaria altogether, killing it at the onset before giving it a chance to spread. A new genetically engineered mosquito has come close to meeting this task.
The key? It is completely – yes, completely – immune to the Plasmodium parasite, the agent that causes mosquitos to transmit malaria when they bite. Although it will take some time to release this mosquito into the wild, the first crucial step – removing the malaria spreading capabilities from the mosquito – has been taken.
Whose idea: scientists at the University of Arizona
Why it’s a brilliant idea: Malaria inflicts 250 million people a year, of which 1 million are lethal. This new malaria-proof mosquito should cause a huge dent in those numbers, when, ideally, within 10 years, it replaces the malaria-causing, havoc-wreaking mosquito already out there. Rather than just reducing the chances of malaria spreading, or simply counteracting when it does spread, this new genetically engineered mosquito will catch and entirely wipe out the malaria from its origin.
The malaria-proof mosquito shows that health and medicine-focused science has come a long way and is truly something to invest time and money in.
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