Breakthrough in the quest for Malaria annihilation



To re-edit a scientific newsletter article into an engaging one with focus on a wider target public. The original newsletter from the US National Library of Medicine can be found here. A further "travel" re-edit of this article can be found here.  

The World Health Organization has identified 21 countries from which to eliminate Malaria by 2020

"Zika epidemic is not over, says Brazilian specialist". "Malaria strikes everywhere but hits Africa the hardest". The headlines are all the more shocking in times where the development of countries in poverty is becoming ever clearer as a means of global prosperity. But a conjoint work by scientists has recently made an exciting advancement in the fight against diseases transmitted by mosquitoes. With this, they make a leap toward wiping out diseases such as Malaria, Zika, Chikungunya, and Yellow Fever to name a few. CRISPR, which stands for Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats is an approach to delivering Cas9, a DNA-Cutting enzyme used to delete or replace targeted areas of an organism's DNA. But the groundbreaking method to this approach, namely, ReMOT Control (Receptor-Mediated Ovary Transduction of Cargo) has cracked a crevice of hope through which the scientific community can envision its applications to many of the world's long-standing health issues. The new method to the approach is aimed at manipulating DNA from the mosquito's offspring through its bloodstream in ways that block its reproduction. The results showed that at the eighth generation, female mosquitoes no longer produced eggs and the population collapsed in laboratory conditions. Previous attempts to reach this goal had failed due to the ability from mosquitoes to develop mutations that override gene editing but the targeting of the doublesex gene which is responsible for female development has proved itself effective. Hopes are that when the method is eventually mastered and further developed, it could be used against agricultural pest infestation, human as well as animal genetic health therapy.

How were the results initially achieved?

To reach this outstanding results, a hypothesis was first raised on whether it would be possible for P2C, an organic substance involved in the mosquito's egg maturing process, to deliver Cas9 through the adult female bloodstream to primary eggs. They had observed that during this process female mosquitoes produced essential proteins for eggs development and with Cas9 altered molecules these proteins could produce results by altering the embryos DNA. But to ascertain this "commuting" possibility prior to the actual DNA altering enzyme test, the team injected P2C with fluorescent protein into a mosquito's bloodstream and later observed the equally brightening color change in over 98% of primary female eggs. With Cas9 transport through the blood put to test with positive results, the next step was to ascertain whether the actual gene change would take effect with this method. For this, they targeted a specific gene, from which structure change resulted in brightening of the eye color at a high rate of the targeted offspring.  

"...The sub Saharan carried the highest share of global Malaria with 90% of cases in 2015..."

         What ReMOT Control brings to the table!

ReMOT Control improves the genome editing tool CRISPR-Cas9 in more than one way. The current method used relies on embryonic microinjection. Needless to say, the first immediate advantage seen when the two methods are compared is the greater number of results that could be achieved through natural procreation; ReMOT Control does not require the amount of equipment and ongoing extensive training investment that microinjection does. This makes it significantly more cost effective as well. The accuracy of results is an additional advantage as in laboratory conditions, certain species cannot be induced to lay a great number of eggs or they give birth to living offspring only. The limitations with the current approach are exponential, as one can see.

In 2016 the Zika virus, transmitted by the same mosquito which spreads the Dengue fever, has contributed to an increase in infant mortality in Brazil, following the outbreak of the disease in 2015. And despite the decrease in the global number of death by Malaria in 2015, scientists still fear a resurge of the disease as for the first time in 10 years, global cases of Malaria are not falling. The World Health Organization has identified 21 countries, the E-2020, from which they aim to eliminate Malaria by 2020 and ReMOT Control together with its very encouraging results could play a very important part toward this international goal.

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