Genetic engineering of malaria parasite resistance in vector mosquitoes
Malaria is the most significant vector-borne disease and mostly affects people living in the lesser developed countries of tropical and sub-tropical regions. Climate changes, rapid global transportation, immigration and invasion of exotic mosquito vectors bring the threat of introduction of the disease to developed nations. Sustainability of malaria control requires the discovery of therapeutic and prophylactic drugs, development of effective vaccines and control of vector mosquitoes. Drug development and vaccine research have been pursued aggressively over the past 20 years, and progress in novel approaches to vector control is now evident. Our long-term objective is the production and utilization of strains of vector mosquitoes that are genetically refractory to the transmission of malaria parasites. These insects will be used to test the hypothesis that an increase in the frequency of a gene or allele that confers decreased vector competence to a population of mosquitoes will result in a reduction in the incidence and prevalence of malaria. Completed studies make it possible to develop strains of Anopheles mosquitoes expressing specific effector molecules that interfere completely with the transmission of the most lethal human malaria parasite, Plasmodium falciparum. Data are reviewed here that support the use of single-chain monoclonal antibodies (scFv) that disable parasites in the midgut and hemolymph of transgenic mosquitoes. © 2008 The Author.