Scientists to sterilize mosquitoes, making it harder for them to transmit deadly diseases

Scientists to sterilize mosquitoes, making it harder for them to transmit deadly diseases
The World Health Organization says 216 million people were infected with malaria in 2016 alone killing 445,000.

(CNN) - These tiny blood-sucking flies are known to leave you itchy and, in some places, leave you infected.

But, gene-editing technology could leave some mosquitoes unable to reproduce.

Mosquitoes may carry deadly diseases like zika virus and malaria.

The World Health Organization says 216 million people were infected with malaria in 2016 alone killing 445,000.

But, researchers at Imperial College London used gene-editing tools to sterilize a population of malaria-carrying mosquitoes.

By modifying the doublesex gene, which determines if a mosquito is male or female, the scientists were able to control how the mosquitos develop.

According to their research published in the Journal Nature Biotechnology, the male mosquitoes developed normally, but female mosquitoes were unable to reproduce and didn't develop the long, needle-like attachment that sucks out our blood.

In the laboratory experiment, 100 percent of the mosquitoes were affected after several generations, leading to a population collapse.

While the experts say this is a step in the right direction, more research is needed to determine what consequences this could have on the food chain and ecosystem.

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