Mosquitos are one of the major ways that malaria is spread, causing an estimated two million deaths per year. Wouldn’t it be cool if those mosquitos could be genetically modified to spread a malaria vaccination instead of the disease itself? Scientists have theorized about just such a solution for years, but recent work from Jichi Medical University in Japan proves that it’s actually possible, not just theoretically possible.
Associate Professor Shigeto Yoshida and his research team “successfully generated a transgenic mosquito expressing the Leishmania vaccine within its saliva. Bites from the insect succeeded in raising antibodies, indicating successful immunization with the Leishmania vaccine through blood feeding.” Of course, this vaccination idea isn’t perfect, since you’ll still have one or more mosquito bites to scratch at, but at least you won’t have malaria.
Maybe I’m alarmist, but I can’t help but think that this kind of approach throws the natural order of things seriously out of whack. As I read the story, I kept hearing Jeff Goldblum from Jurassic Park in my mind, saying “life, uh … finds a way.”