Malaria kills 1.24 million people a year. Mostly babies under 5 years old.
Malaria is becoming resistant to our drugs.
We cant figure out how to make an anti-malarial vaccine.
We can make GMO mosquitoes that are resistant to carrying malaria, but we dont know how to implement them in nature.
NEW IDEA: Make GMO bacteria that make mosquitoes resistant to malaria colonization. ‘Bait’ wild mosquitoes with sugar water filled with GMO bacteria. See a potential 84% decrease in mosquitoes carrying malaria, with a 98% reduction in malaria replication in the colonized mosquitoes, which will hopefully drastically reduce malaria infections in humans.
This could totally work. Mosquitoes have a symbiotic relationship with their bacteria the same way we do– they need their ‘good’ bacteria to get all the nutrients they need to survive. This group took a regular ol bacteria that mosquitoes have in their guts, and gave them a few bells and whistles– several different proteins that make the mosquitoes gut unattractive for malaria colonization. Doesnt hurt the bacteria. Doesnt hurt the mosquitoes. Only affects the malaria (which the mosquitoes dont ‘want’ anyway).
BONUS: Since all mosquitoes need these ‘good’ bacteria, these GMO bacteria will work in any of the ~100 species of mosquitoes that can carry malaria.
BONUS: The bacteria naturally replicate more after a blood-meal. Which means there will be more anti-malaria proteins around right when malaria is trying to find a new mosquito home!
And it would be relatively simple to implement this plan– set out sugar-water ‘bait’ loaded up with these GMO bacteria. Cheap, easy, sugar water (its easy to forget that mosquitoes dont always need blood. its only the females when they are producing eggs).
Combine this strategy with anti-mosquito strategies (insecticides, nets)… we might have a really damn good solution to malaria on our hands here.