pgSIT: Tech based on CRISPR to control growth of mosquitoes
Science & Technology
22nd Sep, 2021
CRISPR-based genetic engineering researchers have created a “precision-guided sterile insect technique” (pgSIT), a system that restrains populations of mosquitoes that infect millions each year with debilitating diseases.
What is Precision-guided sterile insect technique (pgSIT)?
- It is a new scalable genetic control system that uses a CRISPR-based approach to engineer deployable mosquitoes that can suppress populations.
- Males don't transmit diseases so the idea is to release more and more sterile males.
- The precision-guided sterile insect technique alters genes linked to male fertility and female flight in Aedes aegypti.
- Aedes aegypti is the species responsible for spreading diseases including dengue fever, chikungunya and Zika.
- The envisioned pgSIT system could be implemented by deploying eggs of sterile males and flightless females at target locations where mosquito-borne disease spread is occurring.
- The system is self-limiting and is not predicted to persist or spread in the environment.
- 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.
Clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR)
- It is a gene editing technology.
- It replicates natural defence mechanisms in bacteria to fight virus attacks, using a special protein called Cas9.
- CRISPR-Cas9 technology behaves like a cut-and-paste mechanism on DNA strands that contain genetic information.
- The specific location of the genetic codes that need to be changed, or edited, is identified on the DNA strand, and then, using the Cas9 protein, which acts like a pair of scissors, that location is cut off from the strand.