We Have the Technology to Destroy All Zika Mosquitoes
Monday, February 8, 2016
A controversial genetic technology able to wipe out the mosquito carrying the Zika virus will be available within months, scientists say.
The technology, called a “gene drive,” was demonstrated only last year in yeast cells, fruit flies, and a species of mosquito that transmits malaria. It uses the gene-snipping technology CRISPR to force a genetic change to spread through a population as it reproduces.
Three U.S. labs that handle mosquitoes, two in California and one in Virginia, say they are already working toward a gene drive for Aedes aegypti, the type of mosquito blamed for spreading Zika. If deployed, the technology could theoretically drive the species to extinction.
“We could have it easily within a year,” says Anthony James, a molecular biologist at the University of California, Irvine.