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Biotech Medicine

First 'Malaria-Proof' Mosquito Created 261

Posted by timothy
from the what-about-a-really-good-egg-cream dept.
Gisg writes "The University of Arizona team reported that their genetically modified mosquitoes are immune to the malaria-causing parasite, a single-cell organism called Plasmodium. Riehle and his colleagues tested their genetically-altered mosquitoes by feeding them malaria-infested blood. Not even one mosquito became infected with the malaria parasite."
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First 'Malaria-Proof' Mosquito Created

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  • side effect (Score:4, Interesting)

    by blackraven14250 (902843) on Thursday July 15, 2010 @07:02PM (#32921446)
    Just wait for the population explosion in (random mammal) once these mosquitoes start taking over.
    • by Chuck Chunder (21021) on Thursday July 15, 2010 @07:08PM (#32921500) Homepage Journal
      Let's hope they are mammals of the tasty variety.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Chih (1284150)
        mmmm...... mammals *drools*
      • by Darth Sdlavrot (1614139) on Thursday July 15, 2010 @07:57PM (#32921906)

        Mostly it's humans.

        http://www.hmc.psu.edu/healthinfo/m/malaria.htm [psu.edu]

        http://www.itg.be/evde/02_Malariap2.htm [www.itg.be]

        But there is some anecdotal evidence that "long pig" does taste pretty good.

      • Re:side effect (Score:5, Insightful)

        by silentcoder (1241496) on Friday July 16, 2010 @05:55AM (#32924462) Homepage

        Mammal most likely to explode would be the one who has the largest population in Malaria regions already, is most susceptible to infection and has the highest mortality rate from infection.

        That would be human beings.

        Whether or not a further homo sapien population explosion in Africa is something you consider a good or a bad thing may be debated by some (batshit insane) people. Personally though, I reckon this is one case where advocating population control through birth control is probably better than advocating it through mass infections by a parasite that causes perhaps one of the most painful deaths in nature.

        PS. Writing as somebody who has actually HAD malaria. Fortunate enough not to have had a resistant strain. I live in Africa (though I no longer live in a Malaria region, I grew up in one).

        • Re:side effect (Score:5, Insightful)

          by zolltron (863074) on Friday July 16, 2010 @07:03AM (#32924696)

          Some people have speculated that the population explosion in African and Asian countries is caused by high mortality rates. When parents need children for farming, working, or for dowries -- and when there is a relatively high risk of the child dying before puberty -- people opt to have a lot of children to ensure that they survive to be productive.

          I'm not saying I believe it, but one has to be careful in assuming that a decrease in mortality will necessarily mean an increase in population.

          • Re:side effect (Score:4, Insightful)

            by Loco3KGT (141999) on Friday July 16, 2010 @12:45PM (#32928736)

            You should believe it.. It's the main reason family sizes have shrunk in modern civilization - the need to have many children to do these activities has diminished, thus the need to have many children has diminished.

            It might seem bad, or not politically correct, to think this way but if you look at family sizes over the last 1000 years in first world nations you will see the trend.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          that causes perhaps one of the most painful deaths in nature.

          Writing as someone who also had malaria (P.falciparum and vivax simultaneously), I'd like to correct this because it's simply not true. Not in any way, shape or form. And I had the most dangerous form you can get.

          Worst case scenario, you spend a week cycling through chills and fevers, fevers and chills. Then you get TIRED. So tired you can barely move. Eventually, you go into a coma. After that there's plenty of bad shit going on to your sys

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by silentcoder (1241496)

            >>that causes perhaps one of the most painful deaths in nature.

            >Writing as someone who also had malaria (P.falciparum and vivax simultaneously), I'd like to correct this because it's simply not true. Not in any way, shape or form. And I had the most dangerous form you can get.

            Right, so did I. In fact, I got it in Nigeria. Neither of us however have DIED of it. I doubt you went through the final stage symptoms because htey are invariable fatal - I didn't either. But what you list are the symptoms th

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by mattack2 (1165421)

              Honest question -- how can pain killers not have an effect? Is it analogous to "phantom limb pain"? i.e. I thought the pain killers literally turned off the signals from the nerves to the brain that 'make' the pain. So the brain must be making up the pain all by itself?

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              Okay. I said ONE OF the most painful ways in nature. First I never claimed it was THE most painful, and secondly I SPECIFICALLY restricted it to natural deaths. Burning to death doesn't count. Very few diseases have such an extended and incredibly torturous gestation.

              Again, see what you're doing here? I get where you're coming from, but you're going about it the wrong way. Misinformation doesn't help anyone, particularly the millions who die every year from it.

              Unless you've actually seen it happen - you do

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by VolciMaster (821873)

            Worst case scenario, you spend a week cycling through chills and fevers, fevers and chills. Then you get TIRED. So tired you can barely move. Eventually, you go into a coma. After that there's plenty of bad shit going on to your system but you don't feel any of it because you're in a coma. Then you die. I didn't personally get to this part, but I'm guessing it's as painless as the coma was. According to my parents, I was certainly thrashing around a lot, had all kinds of fluids in my lungs, all that I'm sure appears painful, but honestly it was nothing compared to catheterization.

            Which is to say, yes, deadly, yes, you don't want to get it, but no, not the most painful way to shake off this mortal coil. Not even close. I could think of so many worse ways to go.

            We're all happy to know you didn't get to the "die" part!

            Seriously, though - I was unaware that most of the malarial deaths happen post-coma: I thought it was a totally or mostly awake disease

    • Re:side effect (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Greyfox (87712) on Thursday July 15, 2010 @07:09PM (#32921520) Homepage Journal
      Humans.

      Speaking of which, why can't we just make a malaria-proof human?

      • Re:side effect (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 15, 2010 @07:14PM (#32921578)

        it's called sickle-cell anemia...

      • Re:side effect (Score:5, Insightful)

        by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Thursday July 15, 2010 @07:16PM (#32921596) Journal
        People get so much less worked up about genetic engineering in bugs nobody likes...
        • Re:side effect (Score:5, Insightful)

          by binarylarry (1338699) on Thursday July 15, 2010 @07:18PM (#32921616)

          Yeah, this'll be great until we find out they're also immune to mosquito repellent and their desire for human blood has been quadrupled.

          • by lennier (44736) on Thursday July 15, 2010 @07:55PM (#32921890) Homepage

            What could be scarier than VAMPIRE mosquitos!

            oh wait

            well, we could end up with ZOMBIE VAMPIRE mosquitos perhaps. Swat 'em and they come back...

          • by Cassius Corodes (1084513) on Thursday July 15, 2010 @07:56PM (#32921896)
            Also, now they are a 1000 times their normal size.
            • That would probably actually make them a good bit less dangerous...

              At 1000 times normal size, they would still be small enough to be vulnerable to manual blunt trauma(and pulling their wings off just to watch them crawl around and suffer would be much easier); but they would also be large enough to be taken down with BBs at modest range, or "snake load" [jamescalhoon.com] handgun rounds at close range.
              • by Entropius (188861)

                Re: the link:

                Anyone habitually shooting snakes is a douchebag of the highest order. They're wild animals that are pretty much harmless unless you go out of your way to piss them off, and most of the poisonous American varieties are rattlesnakes that will warn you so you don't step on them accidentally.

              • by Yvan256 (722131)

                At 1000 times their maximum size of 16 mm [wikipedia.org] that would make them monsters 16 meters long. Even at one sixteenth that size it would still qualify as a monster insect.

                • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

                  by patrikor_007 (1094491)

                  depends how you figure size.

                  at 1000x their volume, the GP is probably about right.

                  at 1000x their length (1,000,000,000x their volume) they would be as you describe.

              • by Kenoli (934612)
                They would be large enough to never ever be able to find enough food too.
          • Just saw Splice, huh? Well, I regret to inform you that real life is not, in fact, a scifi movie. Just like how radiation doesn't spontaneously give people super powers, genetic engineering doesn't randomly create monsters. I realize this may be harsh news for those of you who can't live without the constant threat of a world wide zombie apocalypse, but it's the truth.

        • Re:side effect (Score:5, Insightful)

          by interkin3tic (1469267) on Thursday July 15, 2010 @08:21PM (#32922080)

          SOME people do.

          From my perspective the most visible people opposed to genetically modified organisms are the least informed. The people who dress up and scream about "frankenfoods" often are doing so out of uninformed ignorance.

          Other people (like me) are concerned about this too, but don't parade around screaming government conspiracy about it. Maybe we tend to be a little more open minded about it too, making us reserve judgement until we get some indication as to whether it's going to have major ecological disadvantages that would outweigh the advantages such as making healthy food cheaper or eradicating malaria.

          I mean, I personally make transgenic bacteria most weeks, so not everyone who is cautious about GMOs are raving anti-science zealots.

          Alternatively, maybe we're hypocrites. I'm guessing we'll get called that and more by extremists on both sides.

          • Re:side effect (Score:5, Insightful)

            by mirix (1649853) on Thursday July 15, 2010 @09:02PM (#32922324)
            It's not so much that I'm afraid of GMOs in themselves, I'm much more afraid of Monsanto owning the rights to my food.

            There was a farmer around these parts, somehow had some modified canola enter his field (via wind blowing pollen or..?) and Monsanto sued him for "license fees" on his crop. Think he ended up not having to pay after a few appeals, but the patent was upheld.

            The other problem I recall hearing is that often the modified plants are less hardy than the natural version, so if your seed is contaminated it will no longer grow as well *without* roundup. I'm not entirely certain on this one though.

            The whole concept of owning a strain of plant that can spread easily, and being able to extract license fees on it, seems very rotten to me, though.
            • Re:side effect (Score:4, Insightful)

              by interkin3tic (1469267) on Thursday July 15, 2010 @09:42PM (#32922560)

              It's not so much that I'm afraid of GMOs in themselves, I'm much more afraid of Monsanto owning the rights to my food.

              I'm personally more concerned about things like unforseen health effects of consuming GMO, GMOs becoming invasive species, gene transfer from crops to pests creating super invasive species, and becoming dependent on monocultured food stocks leading to blights and starvation.

              Monsanto being monsanto does make some of those things more of an issue. They're a lot more cavalier with risks than many organizations would be, and they certainly are doing all they can to press the monoculture, but there are plenty of big risks that don't have anything to do with patents.

              • by mirix (1649853)
                Yeah, I suppose those are fairly reasonable concerns. Perhaps I put too much faith in the FDA, but I do hope they thoroughly analyzed things before approving them. Although, with monsanto's history of bribing and their general lack of concern for the environment and residents, dumping waste and such, I have my doubts...

                I've heard there are already quite a few roundup resistant weeds evolving, so it's kind of comical in a way. Develop a grain that is herbicide resistant, and before the patent even expires,
                • As you, yourself, point out, there's no way to do enough analysis.

                • Re:side effect (Score:4, Interesting)

                  by ChromeAeonium (1026952) on Friday July 16, 2010 @12:36AM (#32923340)

                  IF you are concerned about safety, FDA or no, there has been extensive research on it. Very [agbioworld.org] many [blogspot.com] studies [biofortified.org] demonstrate no difference between GMOs and non-GM crops, and as a result, the general scientific consensus is that they're safe. Even if we assume Monsanto is influencing the FDA, I doubt they exert the same influence over countless relevant experts. Heck, even countries like Iran and China have developed their own homegrown strains of GMO. Iran made the worlds first Bt rice. Is Monsanto bribing off what one of most anti-US countries in the world?

                  Those who claim that GMOs are dangerous haven't done a very good job of proving their claims, either. For something to be dangerous, I think we can all agree it must have a reason, yes? Just being GMO is not a valid reason, it must have some sort of chemical compount, not present in the unmodified counterpart, that is dangerous. To date, no such compound from a commercially approved GMO has been identified. No genetic reasoning, no chemical pathways given for the production, and no proven cases of people actually hurt by them. No reason in theory, no evidence in practice. Starfruit [nih.gov] and kiwi [nih.gov] have presented more problems than GMOs, yet no one protests them. And of course, GMOs must be reviewed on a case by case basis, maybe someday the FDA royally screws up and one that kills people is released , but if it is, there'll be a reason for it. And since there is neither a known reason as to why any of the commercial GMOs would hurt anyone nor evidence that it happens, I guess the FDA just puts them in a catagory similar to Generally Recognized As Safe after the testing has been done.

                  As for the weeds, that is a very real problem. The thing there is, everyone saw that coming. Even Monsanto said it would happen. The problem was that there are only two traits for herbicide resistance, Starlink and Round-Up Ready, and only Round-Up Ready was extensively used. The problem wasn't overuse, but over-reliance. If there were more approved traits, and people used multiple herbicides, it would much more difficult for a weed to develop resistance. Even if it were to acquire the resistance through horizontal gene transfer, if there were multiple genes confirming resistance to multiple compounds, it is still very unlikely. These weeds aren't really 'superweeds' by the way, just regular weeds that are resistant to the most popular herbicide, so they can still be taken out by other chemicals and methods, but still, this never should have been allowed to happen in the first place. I don't know why it wasn't done, why those traits weren't pushed out there, maybe the FDA was lax in approving them, maybe activists protested, maybe the companies just didn't care, whatever, but yes, someone screwed the pooch on that one.

              • Re:side effect (Score:5, Interesting)

                by causality (777677) on Thursday July 15, 2010 @10:14PM (#32922740)

                It's not so much that I'm afraid of GMOs in themselves, I'm much more afraid of Monsanto owning the rights to my food.

                I'm personally more concerned about things like unforseen health effects of consuming GMO, GMOs becoming invasive species, gene transfer from crops to pests creating super invasive species, and becoming dependent on monocultured food stocks leading to blights and starvation.

                Monsanto being monsanto does make some of those things more of an issue. They're a lot more cavalier with risks than many organizations would be, and they certainly are doing all they can to press the monoculture, but there are plenty of big risks that don't have anything to do with patents.

                If it were anything less critical and vital than our food supply, then I'd say take the risk and see what happens. But things like "widespread famine" or "potential dependency on one vendor for food" are not my concept of the ideal failure mode.

                When Microsoft implements vendorlock, it's annoying and inconvenient and maybe expensive. When Monsanto implements vendorlock, it's a whole new level of control. I've never seen a single action or statement from them, an unelected private company, that made them worthy of having the sort of power and control that they are reaching for. If you do some research and know anything about them, you likely would never do business with them or any subsidiaries for any reason. I would be hesitant to trust benevolent, self-denying, noble people with this level of control over the food supply. They want me to trust amoral, self-serving, corporate types with that power? Really? It'd be a funny joke if it were not so absurd and misguided.

                Just consider one question: if genetically modified foods are so great, if only ignorant jackasses would ever have a reason to doubt their virtues, if the facts are on the side of those who want to sell them, then why does Monsanto fight so hard and spend so much money and lobby so much to prevent non-GMO food producers from labeling their products as such? Why is it so incredibly important to them that the FDA not allow such a statement of fact on a food label? Whatever happened to the concept of informed consent? Why would someone with all the facts on their side fear informed consent and fight so hard to prevent it? You see, something here just doesn't add up. Anyone who would deprive you of making an informed choice rightly deserves suspicion.

            • If only we could make software content that could spread and extract license fees...
            • Look, mosquitoes DO bring up virus and bacteria. HOWEVER, they are also bringing us (and other animals), virus from other species. Now, we know a number of these virus are species selective, but only because we are looking for them. Why? Because they produce disease.

              The problem is that I am certain that there are virus that move genes across species. IOW, it is the lowly mosquito that not only causes arthopod borne disease, but also has a great deal to do with evolution. The fact is that we see high evol
          • Re:side effect (Score:5, Informative)

            by causality (777677) on Thursday July 15, 2010 @09:15PM (#32922394)

            Other people (like me) are concerned about this too, but don't parade around screaming government conspiracy about it. Maybe we tend to be a little more open minded about it too, making us reserve judgement until we get some indication as to whether it's going to have major ecological disadvantages that would outweigh the advantages such as making healthy food cheaper or eradicating malaria.

            As another poster has already said, the problem is the control that goes along with the patent rights.

            I'll mention another problem. The moment we can write code of non-trivial complexity that can be perfectly verified to be entirely bug-free is the moment I will begin to believe that genetic engineers who plan to release a modified creature into the wild can foresee all possible consequences of their creation. At least with computer code, we design the entire system from the ground up, both the hardware and the software, we have complete control over both, and still cannot guarantee that something will function as intended. Methinks that perfectly verifying no negative and unforeseen consequences with genetics will be more difficult still, since we discovered that system and did not design it and do not fully control it.

            Killer bees were an attempt to cross-breed two species of honeybee that normally would never be able to produce offspring. It was supposed to give us the hardiness of the African bee with the docility and honey production of the European bee. What we ended up with was a monster that has caused many highly unpleasant deaths. That wasn't malice on the part of the scientists. It was their inability to completely foresee what the result was going to be and how it was going to interact with an entire interconnected ecosystem of other species. There is precedent for wanting a bit more assurance than what has been offered prior to allowing such creatures in the wild.

            • by mirix (1649853)

              I'll mention another problem. The moment we can write code of non-trivial complexity that can be perfectly verified to be entirely bug-free is the moment I will begin to believe that genetic engineers who plan to release a modified creature into the wild can foresee all possible consequences of their creation.

              I agree with this statement a lot. I don't know much about biotech, mind you, but it always struck me as taking a closed source executable, flipping a bit, running it, seeing the part you intended on changing did change (on the 9999th iteration), a rough bug test (try all the inputs I guess, not much more you can do) and shipping it out.

              I wouldn't do that with software, so why we do it with things that can spread on their own, I have no idea.

            • Re:side effect (Score:5, Insightful)

              by ChromeAeonium (1026952) on Thursday July 15, 2010 @11:57PM (#32923194)

              Funny you mention Africanized bees, because that was just conventional breeding. With absolutely anything, be it new biotech or techniques we've used for thousands of years, there is the potential for unforeseen side effects and unknown unknowns. Without some sort of omnipotence, you can't know every possible side effect that might come about. For example, look at the combustion engine. After years of usage, now we are told it is causing global warming. How could people at the start of the Industrial Revolution have foreseen this? Should we have expected them to never put the fossil fueled combustion engine into use because of what might happen? It is impossible to know what exactly each and every outcome of our actions may be. The smallpox vaccine could have some sort of complex, as of yet undescribed, intergenerational effect that could wipe out hundreds of millions tomorrow, and you can't disprove that statement. GMOs could do the same thing, either in terms of human health or ecologically, and you can't disprove that statement either. That's why the argument isn't 'Prove that there will never be a problem.' The argument is 'Sufficiently prove that there are no foreseeable problems.' And really, it isn't even that, the argument is 'Is the damage they cause (if indeed they do) less than the damage that agriculture will cause without them?' And in the meantime, the evidence we suggests that they are beneficial, so should we forgo those benefits in fear of a potential, but merely hypothetical, problem?

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        I'd go out on a limb and say it's not clear we need malaria-proof anything.

        Spraying -- since the end of the civil war in Mozambique -- and distributing treated mosquito nets has greatly reduced Malaria in Mozambique and the lowveld regions of South Africa. Malaria was eliminated in Europe and the US without malaria-proof mosquitoes. (Remember that nasty DDT? It was intended solely for spraying the inside walls of houses in the south. Farmers saw how well it worked and started spraying it on their crops, and

        • by Animal Farm Pig (1600047) on Thursday July 15, 2010 @09:35PM (#32922518)

          I wonder where you've been in Mozambique... Costa do Sol doesn't count. I was a contractor in Manica province a couple of years back. I got malaria four times in one year. Every other international I knew contracted malaria. Mozambican colleagues were also infected often. We had treated nets, sprayed pesticides in our facilities, didn't let water stand, etc., etc.

          It doesn't work. Maybe you can point to some percentage decrease in an area, but people are still getting and dying from malaria. Relying on individual action (treated nets, spraying own facilities) or an on-going effort organized by the government (a national spraying campaign)... recipe for failure.

          I'm not saying we shouldn't take those kinds of actions-- any reduction is good. I'm saying that we should work towards total eradication of malaria. Ending poverty should put the material conditions in place, but maybe GM mosquitoes could help along the way.

          • by reiisi (1211052)

            I don't know.

            It seems to me a bit like trying to eliminate spam by engineering internet users who aren't interested in sex or money.

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by Marcika (1003625)

              I don't know.

              It seems to me a bit like trying to eliminate spam by engineering internet users who aren't interested in sex or money.

              Bad analogy -- they're not changing the humans, they're changing the mosquitoes. So it is rather a bit like infecting spammers with some disease that makes them lose their interest in money, but doesn't endanger their target... And put it like that, it seems like a measure we all can support!

        • by ProfessionalCookie (673314) on Thursday July 15, 2010 @11:13PM (#32923028) Journal
          I live in Mozambique (Pemba, Cabo Delgado) and we've got plenty of Malaria to go around. It's very, very common. And I'll look up the numbers for you...

          In Mozambique 2006, WHO reports:

          22 Million Suspected Cases
          7 Million Confirmed
          19 Thousand Dead
          Malaria instance rate went from 20% to 30% from 2001 to 2007

          And here's my citation: http://malaria.who.int/wmr2008/MAL2008-CountryProfiles/MAL2008-Mozambique-EN.pdf [who.int]

    • What exactly are you saying, that some *random mammal* will stop dying of malaria because of this thing, and it's population will grow? Is that really a bad thing, I mean malaria isn't the most pleasant way to die, I wouldn't even wish it on a random mammal.

      Did you really take the potential cure of malaria and try vigorously to find something that would spin it in a bad light? Because that's not cool. People not dying of malaria > random mammal population growth.
      • I was implying that you suddenly get a spike in a random mammal in the food chain, which leads to the decimation of another animal, and we hit another side effect of messing with the world.
    • by markdavis (642305)
      Yeah, we probably need to substitute transmission of birth control for malaria? I guess that would be complicated.
  • That's nice. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Securityemo (1407943) on Thursday July 15, 2010 @07:02PM (#32921448) Journal
    The malaria parasite is not a bacteria or virus, but could it evolve past this defense? And how would you make this variant of mosquito out-compete the normal, already established ones?
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by mysidia (191772)

      There's a chance it could evolve to defeat that defense as well as a chance that the evolved version could be even more deadly.

      • by Entropius (188861)

        There's also a chance it would be less deadly, since it has to use some of its metabolic output to be immune to whatever defense the skeeterboffins at UA have cooked up.

        • Not necesasrily - most mislabeled "evolved" immunities are actually an enzyme deficiency so that bacteria no longer break down the "poison" or anti-biotics. So while it makes them immune, it actually conserves energy because it no longer produces a certain enzyme. Now, it's possible the missing enzyme was important for other things which makes the bacteria weak, I guess. Anyonw know more about these effects?
        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by mysidia (191772)

          Well, I don't understand why Slashdot didn't publish a link to their actual press release [uanews.org] which is much more informative than medicaldaily.com's 5 paragraph paraphrasing. Their press release explains, that they are basically stimulating the mosquitos' own immune response and metabolism by playing around with the mosquitos' biological production of Akt signalling enzyme, it seems like were hoping to reduce mosquitos' life span by manipulating metabolic functions, and they got other interesting results:

    • Re:That's nice. (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Daniel_Staal (609844) <DStaal@usa.net> on Thursday July 15, 2010 @07:08PM (#32921498)

      It's always possible it could evolve past this defense, but as a parasite it doesn't evolve as fast as a bacteria or virus. So if they can spread fast enough, it's possible the parasite wouldn't have the time.

      As for how this variant would out-compete the normal... If it otherwise matches the normal, it's quite possible this would be enough in and of itself: It wouldn't be spending energy on feeding a common parasite, and therefore would be able to grow stronger & faster on the same amount of food as another mosquito that is infected.

      Worst case really is if the trait waters down when they breed with regular mosquitos: Then it might be weak enough that some of the parasite survives, which would then be a way for it to get a chance at resistance...

    • Re:That's nice. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by interkin3tic (1469267) on Thursday July 15, 2010 @07:17PM (#32921610)

      And how would you make this variant of mosquito out-compete the normal, already established ones?

      I'd hazard a guess that the simple, but probably more dangerous way would be to make these already transgenic malaria proof mosquitoes immune to some type of pesticide, so they'd have a selective advantage.

      A somewhat safer, but far more expensive way would be to breed large amounts of the malaria proof mosquitoes and release them to just crowd out the normal ones.

      Expensive because in addition to the raising a lot of them, you'd have to convince people to let you release large amount of blood sucking parasites near them. Other blood sucking parasites would get rich suing the pants off of that. And it's going to be an uphill battle releasing -any- transgenic organism into the wild. I think concern is entirely justified there as we have a poor track record managing the environment, but I could be convinced it's worth testing if we are reasonably sure it will just prevent malaria transmission. Artificially evolving mosquitoes to be immune to pesticides though would be extremely dangerous and seems like it has a good chance of backfiring if the genes for malaria immunity could be dropped but the pesticide immunity were retained.

      You can guess which approach I suspect is going to be taken.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Actually they already do this with sterile males (males do not suck blood) pesticide free resistance proof eradication, this also works on a lot of other critters. Problem is the will always come back, they breed fast there is a ecological niche, and we can not afford to eradicate them globally. On the other hand the resistant mosquitoes would have an advantage without further modification, malaria makes them sick too, so do this over the main malarial regions and natural selection will take care of the r

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by markdavis (642305)
        I really wish we could just invent a human-proof mosquito, one that can't stand humans.
    • by Tatarize (682683) on Thursday July 15, 2010 @09:58PM (#32922652) Homepage

      Malaria harms mosquitoes too. An earlier attempt of this concept tried to outcompete factor and found that due to the added immunity the mosquito quickly rose to around 90% after a few generations. In theory, all they need to do is release this mosquito and it should have the immunity gene take over the vast majority of the mosquito population in short order and protect a lot of humans as a consequence.

      Also, you can't really evolve past a defense if the wall is instantly 50 feet high. You need some leeway like not taking the full doses of antibiotics or a rather large quasi-species of HIV to have something in the works that kind-of works and then play off that. This makes the mosquitoes rather instantly immune and likely couldn't be evolved around, anymore than a deer could evolve a defense for a high powered sniper rifle that appeared on the scene rather suddenly in evolutionary terms.

      • Evolution of deer (Score:3, Insightful)

        by KiloByte (825081)

        Defeat a high powered sniper rifle is no different that defeating wolf's teeth: it would be prohibitively expensive to defend against them directly, so it's all about avoidance. This mean, stealth and detection of predators (including humans). And for that, deer are equipped moderately well -- and evolution _will_ make them better at spotting hidden humans pretty soon. Just give it time, hunting rifles are a quite new invention.

  • by nebaz (453974) on Thursday July 15, 2010 @07:05PM (#32921472)

    Setting these mosquitoes up in the wild assumes they will 'take over' the role of existing mosquitoes within the environment. What advantage does being malaria-free have to these mosquitoes? If none, will they survive in the wild? (Or make a big enough dent in the population to matter). Also, what happens when these mosquitoes mate with existing mosquitoes?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by c0lo (1497653)

      Setting these mosquitoes up in the wild assumes they will 'take over' the role of existing mosquitoes within the environment. What advantage does being malaria-free have to these mosquitoes? If none, will they survive in the wild? (Or make a big enough dent in the population to matter). Also, what happens when these mosquitoes mate with existing mosquitoes?

      Hey, of course the above are legitimate questions. Tell you what:
      a. more funds need to be provided to the creators of the malaria-proof mosquitoes (and, maybe we will have the answer. But,again, maybe not...)
      b. it is not necessarily that the malaria-proof mosquitoes would be the only solution to keep malaria at bay (i.e. may not be the most effective way to spend the money)
      c. even more, it doesn't come immediately that eliminating malaria is a good thing - what if the presence of malaria keeps (by compe

  • by DWMorse (1816016) on Thursday July 15, 2010 @07:05PM (#32921474) Homepage
    Something to REALLY benefit mankind!
  • by Local ID10T (790134) <ID10T.L.USER@gmail.com> on Thursday July 15, 2010 @07:08PM (#32921492) Homepage

    and... umm... yeah.

  • by electricprof (1410233) on Thursday July 15, 2010 @07:11PM (#32921540)
    They need to be fitted with lasers on their heads to kill off all the other mosquitos.
  • TFA is a PR note. (Score:2, Informative)

    by oldhack (1037484)
    I sacrificed myself and RTFA. No need to click on the link - there is no more info than that in the summary.
  • Wait! I thought it was the humans that got infected with malaria and the mosquitoes were just carriers.

  • by pookemon (909195) on Thursday July 15, 2010 @07:38PM (#32921780) Homepage
    First malaria proof mosquito? I created one years ago.

    *splat*

    There's another.
  • by SvnLyrBrto (62138) on Thursday July 15, 2010 @08:16PM (#32922014)

    Great... just great.

    Here's an idea. How about, instead of curing their diseases, we put out efforts instead into eradicating the bastards. It's not like we don't know how to drive a species into extinction. We've done it, or are on the verge of doing it, to many cool species. So why the hell can't we do it to one of the more bastardly unpleasant ones?

    Any hippy that objects... let's make them extinct too.

    • Re:Oh, wonderful. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Jbcarpen (883850) on Thursday July 15, 2010 @08:28PM (#32922118)

      First look at the breeding rate of all the different species we've driven extinct. Then compare to the reproduction rate of mosquitoes. Also compare the food sources and available habitats.

      Problem with driving mosquitoes extinct is that they are among the (relatively) few species on the planet that can live almost anywhere we can, and regards us as food. It also only takes a few of them surviving, and then with their reproduction rate they're back very quickly in that area.

      I'm not saying it couldn't be done, but it's be a bitch to do and there'd be a lot of bykill that we don't really want. It'd also take out a very low level creature in the foodchain.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      The complete removal of mosquitoes would be nice but there would be add on effects.

      Many other animals (humming birds and Dragonflies to name two) eat mosquitoes. If mosquitoes get wiped out it would likely cause problems for those other species, sure most of them would just eat more of the other insects in their diet but then those might get pushed into extinction which would further impact the predators. And a few of those that rely near exclusively on mosquitoes might be more important to human surviva
    • At least we're close to exterminating the Guinea Worm. (Only 3185 cases left, total. The parasite only infects humans.)

      One of the few things that Jimmy Carter actually did right.

  • by Solandri (704621) on Thursday July 15, 2010 @08:46PM (#32922238)
    Fast-forward 50 years. Natural mosquitoes have been eradicated, replaced by this new genetically modified mosquito. Malaria is wiped off the face of the earth. Two million lives a year are saved. There are rainbows in the sky. Cute puppies and kittens sleep together in every home.

    Until some lawyer files a class action lawsuit. Since all mosquitoes are now the genetically modified variety, the researchers and company which developed the buggers and the governments which permitted it are now liable for the pain and suffering associated with every mosquito bite on the planet.
  • The plan is to replace the wild mosquitos with the genetically modified but if the wild mosquitos are more fit it probably won't work. Quite an achievement, though. Of course they could now create a super mosquito that is more fit, bites the hell out of us but doesn't pass on malaria. Might be worth it.

  • First we find a gene we want expressed.
    Next we breed a super mosquito which is much hardier, has better survivability and better mating potential.
    Scary, but it actually could be someones thought process.
  • by geekmux (1040042) on Thursday July 15, 2010 @09:24PM (#32922444)

    Maybe it's just me, but after reading for seemingly months about some seriously stupid studies being conducted, I finally come across one that seems to be worth every penny we would ever spend on it. Malaria via mosquito is a HUGE problem in certain parts of the world.

    It's about time we stopped pissing money away, trying to figure out why water is wet, why alcohol in excess makes you think you can sing, or scientifically proving the whole chicken vs. egg thing (sadly, that last one is an actual study)...

  • But now the trick is getting these genetically modified mosquitoes to out-compete the unmodified one.

    By the way, if this is done Monsanto style, will we be charged a fee if we get bitten by one of these copyrighted patented trademarked proprietary mosquitoes?

  • > The University of Arizona team reported that their genetically modified mosquitoes ...

    What could POSSIBLY go wrong?

  • How about we a kill a good majority of the dang things instead?

    A University of Manitoba researcher appears to be close to a solution [www.cbc.ca] that involves releasing sterilized male mosquitoes into the population.
  • Are they immune to bug spray, too?
    • by CrazyJim1 (809850)
      Combine my post with yours, and you have a flawed mad scientist scheme of eradicating malaria. Just so you know, I'm against this sort of thought mainly because I didn't put much into it. But its still something to discuss.
      Step 1: Make Mosquito that can't contract Malaria (check)
      Step 2: Be really sure this gene is a dominant gene.
      Step 3: Make Super Bug who can't die to a certain kind of bug spray
      Step 4: Release Super Mosquito into wild.
      Step 5: Spray bug spray to kill off a majority of mosquitoes witho
  • by NotQuiteReal (608241) on Friday July 16, 2010 @12:37AM (#32923344) Journal
    Please, avoid all products from Arizona!

    I am sure this anti-malaria thing is somehow racist! How dare those bigot pigs in Arizona try to thwart God's will! People who live in malarial zones are all natural, and their environment should not be altered. Not by crops that grow or bugs that don't carry natural diseases.

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