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Last week at MalariaWorld: Scientists divided over 'gene drive mosquitoes'

November 15, 2018 - 21:55 -- Ingeborg van Schayk

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The most promising or the most frightening experiment in the fight against malaria: should or shouldn’t we use genetically modified mosquitoes to combat malaria?

“Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should.” (Jurassic Park)
The fight against malaria is a hard one and every person that dies of malaria is one too many. But how far should we go? How much should we put at risk to achieve elimination. What are the ethical, social, environmental and political issues at stake? And who is to decide?
From 13 - 29 November 2018 there is a UN’s convention on biological diversity (CBD) meeting in in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt. The Guardian reports that at this particular meeting “recommendations will be considered that call on governments to refrain from releasing organisms that contain gene drives, even in small-scale field trials”. If a UN biodiversity conference imposes a moratorium on this kind of work there could be serious consequences for research on genetically modified mosquitoes and their potential release in the ‘real world’.
But scientists are divided over whether or not ‘gene drive mosquitoes’ should play a role in malaria elimination.

On the one hand there are scientists that believe that the gene drive approach has the potential to significantly reduce the Anopheles gambiae population. Engineered gene drives will be used to modify the DNA of wild organisms on a large scale. The modified mosquitoes will then pass on the mutated gene that renders the females sterile. As a result the population crashes.

On the other hand there are scientist that argue that gene drives pose an unacceptable risk by spreading modified genes through the environment with unpredictable consequences.

And there are scientists, civilians and politicians who argue that it is unethical that ‘western or northern’ funded research groups want to release these genetically modified organisms on the African continent. 
The question remains: Who is to decide? What do you think? We will post a poll on this tomorrow.  We welcome your view.
Further reading: 

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Enjoy this week's MalariaWorld - the MW team


June 7, 2018 - 13:33 -- MalariaWorld Events

Do you have an announcement of interest to malaria & health professionals? Share it on MalariaWorld!
We have created the opportunity to advertise on MalariaWorld. MW is your place to contact >9100 malaria professionals in 140 countries. Contact: if you are interested to advertise or would like more information.

1st Malaria World Congress: 1-5 July 2018, Australia

January 6, 2018 - 10:11 -- First Malaria W...

A major gap in the malaria response landscape is the absence of a forum where representatives of the entire malaria world can meet. Our key aim for the inaugural World Congress on Malaria is to unify and energise the broader malaria community around a common sense of purpose, including one that links malaria with the wider global health and human development goals of Universal Health Coverage and the Sustainable Development Goals. Together we can learn from each other, plan for the implementation of cross sector strategies and galvanise the effort for the eradication of malaria.

New: WHO toolkit for Integrated Vector Management in sub-Saharan Africa

November 11, 2016 - 10:48 -- Bart G.J. Knols

WHO has just published its toolkit for Integrated Vector Management in sub-Saharan Africa. It is attached here for your perusal (and use!).

This toolkit for integrated vector management (IVM) is designed to help national and regional programme managers coordinate across sectors to design and run large IVM programmes. It is an extension of earlier guidance and teaching material provided by WHO: Handbook for integrated vector management , Monitoring and evaluation indicators for integrated vector management , Guidance on policy-making for integrated vector management and Core structure for training curricula on integrated vector management.

Promoting south-centred collaborations in vector-borne diseases

October 14, 2016 - 07:00 -- Bart G.J. Knols
The below contribution was submitted to MalariaWorld by Dr. Gerry Killeen
Dear Colleagues,
Please find attached a concept note I have just posted on the extranet discussion board for the following UK-BBSRC funding mechanism to support networks in vector-borne disease (VBD) research:
If the idea of such a research networking platform, which is governed, managed and hosted by institutions in the developing countries most afflicted by VBDs appeals to you, please send an E-mail to , to request registration for their extranet networking web site. Once registered please visit the community discussion board to review this idea and any others you like. To access the attachments for each discussion item, click on the “Properties” icon. Then please reply with comments you feel we should take on board as we develop this idea further, and build towards a full expression of interest (EOI) submission. If you’d like to “like” it or add a “note”, that helps too but note that “tag” insertions are visible only to you.

In memoriam: Anuj Nathalal Shah (1960-2016)

September 16, 2016 - 09:19 -- Bart G.J. Knols
The article below was contributed by Nick Brown of A-Z Textile Mills Ltd.
Anuj Shah was appointed as the Chief Executive Officer of the family company A to Z Textile Mills Limited in 1995. Although A to Z had been producing polyester netting for the local market since 1972, the re-start of the previously abandoned attempt to eradicate malaria had only just begun. “Net Gain – A new method for preventing malaria deaths” was only published (by IDRC and WHO) in 1996 and Anuj Shah was there from the very start of this new fight against malaria. Don de Savigny (Swiss TPH) and the late Tim Manchester (PSI) met Anuj in Arusha in 1997 and pointed out there would be a substantial market for high quality, large coloured nets and Anuj accepted the challenge. As Jane Miller, then working at PSI recalls, “Anuj was simply a visionary”.


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