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Breakthrough Could Eliminate Killer Disease

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Breakthrough Could Eliminate Killer Disease

Breakthrough Could Eliminate Killer Disease
September 27
20:40 2018

Many people here in the United States think that malaria is a disease in other parts of the world but not here and they are so very wrong. Americans travel to places where malaria infected mosquitoes exist and if bit, they bring the disease back home to the US.

This includes many members of our military and my dad was one of those.

During World War II, he served in the US Navy for 6 years, most of which was spent in the pacific theater. He often spoke of how many of his shipmates had malaria and then admitted that he also had contracted the disease. I recall times when he would be relatively fine one day and the next day he would be running a fever and chilling so bad that his whole body constantly shook, and it didn’t matter how many blankets he would have on top of him and yet he would sweat profusely. This would usually last a day or two and then he would feel better. This happened a few times in his life.

Did you know that according to the CDC, there were 445,000 deaths caused by malaria worldwide in 2016, and a reported 216 million cases of malaria? Most of the deaths are children 5 and under. Sub-Saharan Africa accounts for 90% of malaria cases and 92% of malaria deaths, but that still means there are about 20 million cases of malaria NOT in sub-Saharan Africa.

You also need to know that in areas where malaria is prevalent, most people recognize the symptoms and treat themselves or their loved ones without ever seeing a doctor, so there are many more cases of the disease than the 216 million reported.

Malaria is disease caused by a parasite, Plasmodium, that is carried by Anopheles mosquitoes. When an infected female mosquito bites a human, the parasite is transferred to the human host, where it undergoes a series of lifecycles, causing the disease, malaria. There are over 100 species of Plasmodium, but four species are found to infect humans and cause the disease.

Symptoms of malaria include:

  • a sensation of cold with shivering
  • fever, headaches, and vomiting
  • seizures sometimes occur in younger people with the disease
  • sweats, followed by a return to normal temperature, with tiredness

In some areas where malaria is prevalent, efforts have been made to reduce or eradicate the mosquito population, but they are usually only short-term solutions, and in the end, the mosquito population returns to full force, but that may soon be a thing of the past.

Researchers at the Imperial College London have used the CRISPR gene slicing technology to completely eliminate a population of Anopheles mosquitos.

CRISP is a technique that has been described as ‘molecular scissors’ that are used to cut specific sections of DNA and either repair damaged sections or replace sections with new DNA. In the case of the mosquito tests, they used the technology to change the DNA that blocked female mosquitoes from reproducing, per a report:

“Scientists were able to “crash” the caged population of mosquitoes in just 7 to 11 generations. Researchers specifically targeted a ‘doublesex’ gene that determines a mosquito’s gender. The “gene drive” altered part of the gene responsible for female development. ‘Males who carried this modified gene showed no changes, and neither did females with only one copy of the modified gene. However, females with two copies of the modified gene showed both male and female characteristics, failed to bite and did not lay eggs,’ they explained in a statement.”

They eventually want to be able to use the gene editing on mosquitoes in the wild. As mosquitoes breed, the modified gene is spread to more and more mosquitoes, which, it is hoped, could in a few years, eliminate most, if not all of the Anopheles mosquitoes, which would virtually eliminate the further spread of malaria and save millions from suffering from the horrible disease and save hundreds of thousands of lives. It would also make it safer for Americans to travel to places where malaria is found.

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