LONDON, June 10 (Xinhua) -- Malaria is spread by female mosquitoes, which bite humans. An international research team modified mosquitoes to produce sperm that only create males, pioneering a new approach to eradicating malaria.
The study, published on Tuesday in the British scientific journal Nature Communications, was a collaboration of British, Italian and American scientists.
They tested a genetic method that distorts the sex ratio of Anopheles gambiae mosquitoes, the main transmitters of the malaria parasite, so that the female mosquitoes are no longer produced.
The new method involved injecting mosquitoes with a gene from slime mould, which attached itself to their X chromosome during the male's sperm-making process, and effectively shredded part of the chromosome's DNA.
That process could cause the vast majority of their offspring to be male, which would ultimately make the malaria-carrying mosquito population die out within a few generations. In the first laboratory tests, about 95 percent of the eggs laid hatched into males.
"Malaria is debilitating and often fatal and we need to find new ways of tackling it. We think our innovative approach is a huge step forward." Lead researcher Professor Andrea Crisanti from Imperial College London said.
"For the first time, we have been able to inhibit the production of female offspring in the laboratory and this provides a new means to eliminate the disease," the professor added.