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A team of scientists, led by Michael Riehle at the University of Arizona, have successfully bred genetically modified mosquitoes that are incapable of infecting humans with malaria.

“Completely eradicating the malaria parasite carried by mosquitoes requires three things: the ability to engineer the mosquito, finding genes or molecules that can kill the malaria parasite, and giving the modified mosquitoes a competitive advantage so they can replace the wild population. The first two components have been accomplished, but Riehle says the third represents a bigger hurdle. “A lot of research is being done now to give the mosquitoes fitness advantages so that they can replace the wild populations,” he said. “But it’s probably at least a decade away, and if this is ever used for malaria control it will take several years for population replacement to actually occur.” –Laurie J. Schmidt

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