Genetic Mutation Makes Mosquitoes Unaware of Humans
It seems that researchers also care about our wellbeing, after all, since they went through the trouble of genetically modifying mosquitoes so that these little bloodsuckers ignore us completely.
People from the northern hemisphere have already prepared their bathing suits and trekking equipment for the following months. Many of them also pack insect repellents in their travel bags, but wouldn’t it be better if the mosquitoes became unaware of our existence altogether, instead of forcing us to spend money on substances that makes as unappealing to them? If this idea has ever crossed your mind, then you should thank the researchers from Rockefeller University in NYC, as they’ve put it into practice.
What Leslie Vosshall, a professor at the aforementioned university and senior researcher on the study, did was to alter the genes of mosquitoes so that their sense of smell gets changed in our favor. Apparently, it’s our smell and warmth that make us one of the favorite foods of these little insects. On top of that, they can also feel the carbon dioxide that we exhale, so it’s no wonder that they feel us.
The bad news is that the genetically modified mosquitoes won’t be set free into the wild world, despite what Michael Slotman declared: “The idea behind this approach is that natural mosquito populations are replaced by ones that have a gene that modifies their host preference so they no longer prefer humans.” Ultimately, the decision seems to be Vosshall’s, as all the researchers are concerned whether the mutant mosquitoes will be able to survive in the wild.
Instead, the researchers claim that they did these test in order to find out how mosquito repellents could be furthermore improved. My guess is that a particular company will benefit from the results of this research, as everything today is done in the idea of profit.
A particularly interesting approach of this problem is that mosquitoes who can no longer target us would be unable to transmit diseases from one person to another. These insects are famous for this ability of theirs, and malaria is among the most dangerous diseases that they could carry. I am sure that many people would exhale with relief without fearing that their carbon dioxide emission would cause malaria-carrying mosquitoes to gather around them. It will remain to be seen what decision these researchers will take and how it will affect humanity.