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Anopheles gambiae, the main vector
of the deadliest malaria parasite,
Plasmodium falciparum

Ecologists are warning that genetically modifying mosquities so that they are unable to transmit malaria may not be a 'quick fix' to a disease that kills 3,000 children a day in Africa.

At least five US and three European research groups are working on transgenic mosquitoes, with some degree of success, at least in mouse malaria.

But some scientists are warning that there are many ecological hurdles that could easily sink the plan. For example, it is unclear whether the new mosquitoes would be able to compete for partners with their natural counterparts, and the length of time it would take for new resistance genes to penetrate the population.

Reference: Science 297, 31 (2002)

Photo credit: WHO/TDR/Stammer

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