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» The Ornery American Forum » General Comments » The solution to eradicating Malaria is building a better mosquito

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Author Topic: The solution to eradicating Malaria is building a better mosquito
Kent
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This news is so cool. News release,

quote:
A genetically modified (GM) strain of malaria-resistant mosquito has been created that is better able to survive than disease-carrying insects.

It gives new impetus to one strategy for controlling the disease: introduce the GM insects into wild populations in the hope that they will take over.

The insect carries a gene that prevents infection by the malaria parasite.

If you read on you will notice that the "good" mosquitos have also been modified to have florescent green eyes. [Cool]
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0Megabyte
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Hmm.

Well, if it's really successful, and the mosquitos can't contract the (harmful to them, right?) disease, AND are better able to survive, then all for it!

The article says that the mosquitos are harmed by the disease anyway, and thus a kind that can't contract the disease would be more able to live and outcompete.

I'd imagine it would take a lot of mosquitos to work, though. Or at least to be sure, right?

This is actually pretty cool. Viva le genetic engineering!

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EDanaII
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Danger! Danger! Warning, Will Robinson! Someone is approaching perilously close to the Law of Unintended Consequences! [Smile]

Which is why, I suspect, they stated they's a long way from actually releasing them into the wild. Better study this one REAL good.

Ed.

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Kent
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I can imagine myself about to swat a mosquito, then I see the green eyes pleading with me, and letting her gorge herself on my blood so that she may reproduce and perpetuate the superior race.

Really, how vital to an ecosystem are mosquitos? I would love to see them eradicated like polio.

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DaveS
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I agree with EDanall. You can't win a game when you have only a hazy understanding of the rules. Think of those unintended consequences as entropy. We have absolutely no way to predict what their mutation tendencies (frequency, kind) will be once the genes are out in the wild.
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Kent
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Okay, how about genetically engineering them to not leave an itchy welt after they bite?
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WeAreAllJust LooseChange
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The solution to eradicate Malaria is - building a better human!

This news is so cool! News Release

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DaveS
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quote:
Okay, how about genetically engineering them to not leave an itchy welt after they bite?
I think that would be acceptable, but in return you have to agree to support a genetic mutation that makes a dog use a litter box from birth. Such kuppies would grow up to become cogs.
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Funean
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Next, cats that change their own freaking litter boxes (they won't mind if it means staying ahead of the dogs, er, cogs).

So, do we know if birds and bats find the new skeeters tasty?

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DaveS
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The new Genuflex Swallow(tm) does very much. Pending outcome of negotiations with investors, it also won't leave souvenirs on American made cars.
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EDanaII
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quote:
I can imagine myself about to swat a mosquito, then I see the green eyes pleading with me, and letting her gorge herself on my blood so that she may reproduce and perpetuate the superior race.
All hail the Hypno-mosquito!


quote:
So, do we know if birds and bats find the new skeeters tasty?
Praise be unto the Hypno-mosquito!
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ngthagg
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"Okay, how about genetically engineering them to not leave an itchy welt after they bite?"

Or how about genetically engineering them to be cuddly bunnies?

I'm a bit wary about making too many changes. I can see the malaria immunity as worthwhile (until we can rely on mosquitoes to get vaccinated) but we shouldn't go any farther than that.

ngthagg

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TommySama
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I noticed J.B. hadn't covered this already, but according to wikipedia

quote:
Malaria is presently endemic in a broad band around the equator, in areas of South America, South and Southeast Asia, parts of the Middle East and Oceania, and much of Africa; however, it is in sub-Saharan Africa where 85– 90% of malaria fatalities occur.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malaria#Distribution_and_impact


Because so much of this disease is found in Africa, it can be safely assumed that black Africans are the primary carrier and spreader of the disease.

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TommySama
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Does anyone else think it's interesting that Africa, which only contains 14% of the total world population is responsible for 80-90% of the deaths caused by Malaria?
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cherrypoptart
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I want to have dolphins genetically engineered so that they have opposable thumbs and voice boxes that can speak our language.

Then we'll see just how smart they really are.

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DaveS
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I think the outcome of your test would cause incredible distress throughout the religious community. Perhaps if we also engineer them to have an ironic sense of humor and an irritating laugh, we can retain our sense of superiority.
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Lobo
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The solution is DDT.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/1677073.stm

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/09/15/AR2006091501012.html

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DonaldD
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DDT has been in cyclical, widespread use since the middle of the last century. It is only one weapon in the arsenal, and on its own is insufficient to either eradicate or even continuously control malaria outbreaks.
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Lobo
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quote:
Originally posted by DonaldD:
DDT has been in cyclical, widespread use since the middle of the last century. It is only one weapon in the arsenal, and on its own is insufficient to either eradicate or even continuously control malaria outbreaks.

I don't think that is entirely true. The reason that DDT becomes less effective is because the insects develop resistance to the chemical. This happens when DDT is used for disease control (mainly indoors in small amounts) and for crop spraying. If used selectively, it can be safe and very effective. I will dig up some articles.
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Lobo
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Here is one:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=retrieve&db=pubmed&list_uids=9284373&dopt=Abstract

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Sunshine
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The regions where malaria are found are also where the allele for the sickle cell trait can be found. Carriers of the allele turn out to exhibit resistance to malaria, but the down side is people with two alleles exhibit sickle cell anemia, a really crappy disease.

quote:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Malaria is presently endemic in a broad band around the equator, in areas of South America, South and Southeast Asia, parts of the Middle East and Oceania, and much of Africa; however, it is in sub-Saharan Africa where 85– 90% of malaria fatalities occur.

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Jesse
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I've gone off about DDT myself more than once, though having done it I really don't feel like digging up all the links again.

The entire nation of South Africa managed an 80% or so reduction in Malaria cases using only a couple tons of DDT nation wide.

Tommy-

Yeah, I do think it's interesting. See, Malaria used to be endemic to Italy, the Southern part of the US...and a lot of other regions...untill those folks started draining stagnant ponds.

A few tens of millions a year spent on Vector Control would do a lot more to help the people of Africa than all the medical research currently going on.

News Headline in ten years?

"GM Mosquitos, not kept in check by Malaria, start West Nile epidemic in Sub-Saharan Africa."

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Sunshine
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It's amazing the little things that can change an environment for-- well disease in this case. For example, plastic bags (you know the kind from grocery stores) get tossed out fairly regularly. Unfortunately in Africa, they have become a huge problem because they collect water, which is the breeding ground for mosquitos, and voila the malaria rates increase. I think some of the countries have recently made a ban on really cheap thin bags. People are more likely to save the thicker ones that don't break as easily.
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DonaldD
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Here are a couple of threads where we discussed DDT in the past:

Thread 1

Thread 2

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