Another approach is to target genes involved in sex differentiation By impairing the ability of the genetically female mosquito to develop as female, the male-to-female ratio would be increased. This will have two benefits, firstly, the males do not transmit malaria and secondly, at a certain point an excess of males would cause a population crash.
The main challenge has been putting their groundbreaking research together. Professor Andrea Crisanti, head of the research group, explains that their main aim now is to ‘engineer this gene mosquito sequence to interfere with malaria development and transmission’ and secondly, they want to ‘assess large mosquito populations for the efficacy and scalability of the technology.’
The team are building huge laboratories, with an indoor release facility, to mimic the natural environment and then to reproduce a season and release the mosquitoes in the controlled environment. They plan within the next few years to be ready to release the human-friendly mosquitoes in the field.