CRISPR-Based System To Safely Restrain Mosquito Vectors Via Sterilization:
Researchers from California have developed CRISPR-based system to safely restrain mosquito vectors via sterilization. It is called the new precision-guided sterile insect technique, or pgSIT.
- pgSIT is a new scalable genetic control system that uses a CRISPR-based approach to engineer deployable mosquitoes that can suppress populations.
- It alters genes linked to male fertility — creating sterile offspring — and female flight in Aedes aegypti, the mosquito species responsible for spreading wide-ranging diseases including dengue fever, chikungunya, and Zika.
- pgSIT uses CRISPR to sterilize male mosquitoes and render female mosquitoes, which spread disease, as flightless.
- pgSIT eggs can be shipped to a location threatened by mosquito-borne disease or developed at an on-site facility that could produce the eggs for nearby deployment. Once the pgSIT eggs are released in the wild, sterile pgSIT males will emerge and eventually mate with females, driving down the wild population as needed.
- CRISPR technology is basically a gene-editing technology that can be used for the purpose of altering genetic expression or changing the genome of an organism.
- The technology can be used for targeting specific stretches of an entire genetic code or editing the DNA at particular locations.
- CRISPR technology is a simple yet powerful tool for editing genomes. It allows researchers to easily alter DNA sequences and modify gene function.
- Its many potential applications include correcting genetic defects, treating and preventing the spread of diseases and improving crops.
- However, its promise also raises ethical concerns.
- The technology behaves like a cut-and-paste mechanism on DNA strands that contain genetic information.
- The specific location of the genetic codes that need to be changed, or “edited”, is identified on the DNA strand, and then, using the Cas9 protein, which acts like a pair of scissors, that location is cut off from the strand. A DNA strand, when broken, has a natural tendency to repair itself.
- Scientists intervene during this auto-repair process, supplying the desired sequence of genetic codes that binds itself with the broken DNA strand.