CRISPR to control growth of mosquitoes_00.1
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CRISPR to control growth of mosquitoes

 

Relevance

GS 3: Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life.

 

Context

Recently, researchers have created a system that restrains populations of mosquitoes by using CRISPR-based genetic engineering.

 

Key points

Sterile Insect Technique

  • The sterile insect technique is an environmentally-friendly insect pest control method involving the mass-rearing and sterilization.
  • SIT uses radiation of a target pest, which is followed by the systematic area-wide release of the sterile males over defined areas, where they mate with wild females.
  • It results in no offspring and a declining pest population, which helps in decreasing the instances of diseases such as dengue and malaria.

 

What is pgSIT?

  • The “precision-guided sterile insect technique” (pgSIT) is a SIT that alters genes linked to male fertility—creating sterile offspring—and female flight in Aedes aegypti, the mosquito species responsible for spreading diseases including dengue fever, chikungunya and Zika.
  • The pgSIT uses CRISPR to sterilise male mosquitoes and render female mosquitoes (which spread disease) flightless.

 

CRISPR to control growth of mosquitoes_50.1

 

Two enabling features of pgSIT

  • It is self-limiting that means it tends to go away on its own, without any external treatment.
  • It is not predicted to persist or spread in the environment.

 

pgSIT to contain mosquito

  • 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.

 

About CRISPR

  • Clusters of Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats (CRISPR) is a family of DNA sequences found in the genomes of prokaryotic organisms such as bacteria and archaea.
  • 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.
  • CRISPR is s shorthand for “CRISPR-Cas9.” Where Cas9 is an enzyme that acts like a pair of molecular scissors, capable of cutting strands of DNA.
  • CRISPR-Cas9 is a unique technology that enables geneticists and medical researchers to edit parts of the genome by removing, adding or altering sections of the DNA sequence.

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