World Malaria Day shines a light on efforts to control malaria – a parasitic disease, transmitted by mosquitoes, that kills almost a million people every year. Strategies to control both the parasite and its insect hosts have floundered, and scientists are turning to genetics to engineer a break in transmission. They are modifying mosquitoes to resist the malaria parasite – GM ‘mozzies’ that could in future replace their malaria-carrying mates in the wild. Like its wild counterparts this mosquito pupa (pictured) dwells beneath the water surface before transforming into a flying syringe. But unlike the mini-bioterrorists that collect and deliver their deadly parasite cargo as they take a blood meal, this shiny specimen cannot transmit malaria. The orange hue (seen under UV light) tells scientists it has incorporated a genetic ‘docking station’ into its DNA that accepts a ‘play-list’ of genes conferring malaria resistance that could interrupt malaria transmission.
Written by Caroline Cross
BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences the website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biomedicine. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.