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About The Gene-Drive Technology

Context:

Gene-drive technology has been used in outdoor but controlled conditions in India, Brazil, and Panama to genetically manipulate mosquitoes.

Relevance:

GS III: Science and Technology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About Gene-Drive Technology
  2. Recent Developments

About Gene-Drive Technology:

  • Gene-drive technology is a form of genetic engineering that is designed to modify genes within populations.
  • This technology was conceived by Austin Burt, a professor at Imperial College London, and has since been explored for various applications.
  • One potential application of gene-drive technology is as an effective means to combat nuisance species, such as malaria-causing mosquitoes.
  • In gene-drive technology, selective inheritance of genes is achieved, departing from the traditional rules of Mendelian genetics.
  • The process involves a protein that cleaves the mosquito’s DNA at a specific location that doesn’t encode a particular sequence in the genome. This action initiates a natural repair mechanism within the cell containing the DNA, which results in the incorporation of a drive sequence into the damaged portion of the DNA.

Recent Developments:

  • Researchers at Imperial College London have made advancements in gene-drive technology by genetically enhancing a gene expressed in the midgut of mosquitoes. This gene is engineered to secrete two antimicrobial substances known as magainin 2 and melittin.
  • These antimicrobial substances are detrimental to the Plasmodium parasite’s development within the mosquito’s midgut and reduce the lifespan of female mosquitoes.
  • Computational modeling studies have suggested that this approach could significantly disrupt malaria transmission, offering a promising strategy in the fight against this disease.

-Source: The Hindu


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