Genetic Engineering and Diseases – Gene Drive & Malaria

Genetic Engineering and Diseases – Gene Drive & Malaria

What if you could use genetic
engineering to stop humanity’s most dangerous predator, the deadliest animal on the planet responsible for the death of billions, the mighty mosquito? Along
with other diseases it plays host to Malaria, one of the cruelest parasites on Earth possibly the single biggest killer of
humans in history. In 2015 alone hundreds of millions were infected and almost half a million people died. A new technology could help us eradicate Malaria forever, but to do so we need to engineer a whole animal population. This is not a hypothetical problem, the
modified mosquitoes already exist in a lab. Should we use the technology, and is
malaria bad enough to risk it? (Intro Music) Malaria is caused by a group of
microorganisms: Plasmodia, very weird microorganisms that consists of just a single-cell, they’re parasites that completely rely on mosquitoes. Malaria always starts with an insect bite. In it’s salivary glands, thousands of sporozoites wait until the insect penetrates your skin, immediately after invading you they head for the liver where they quietly enter big cells and hide from the immune system. For up to a month they stay here in stealth mode consuming the cells
alive and changing into their next form: small drop like merozoites, they multiply generating thousands of themselves and then burst out of the cells. So thousands
of parasites head into the bloodstream to look for their next victims, Red blood
cells, to stay unnoticed, they wrap themselves in the membranes of the cells
they killed. Imagine that! Killing someone from the inside and then taking their
skin as camouflage, brutal! They now violently attack red blood cells,
multiplying inside them until they burst then finding more red blood cells and
this cycle repeats over and over. Pieces of dead cells spread lots of toxic waste
material, which activates a powerful immune response causing flu-like
symptoms, among the symptoms are high fever, sweats and chills, convulsions,
headaches and sometimes vomiting and diarrhea. If malaria breaches the
blood-brain barrier it can cause coma, neurological damage or death. The
parasites are ready for evacuation now. When another mosquito bites the infected
human they get a ride, the cycle can start over. In 2015, the Zika virus, which
causes horrible birth defects if it infects pregnant women, spread rapidly
into new areas around the globe. It too is carried by a mosquito. The mosquito is the
perfect carrier for human diseases they’ve been around for at least 200
million years. There are trillions of them and a single one can lay up to 300
eggs at a time. They are practically impossible to eradicate and the perfect
parasite taxi. But today we have a new revolutionary technology, that could
enable us to finally win the war against them; CRISPR. For the first time
in human history, we have the tools to make fast, large-scale changes to entire
species, changing their genetic information as we please. So instead of attacking isolated groups
of insects, why not just change the types that transmit diseases? Using genetic engineering, scientists successfully created a strain of
mosquitoes that are immune to the malaria parasite by adding a new
antibody gene that specifically targets plasmodium. These mosquitoes will never
spread malaria. But just changing genetic information is not enough. The edits
would only be inherited by half the offspring because most genes have two
versions inside the genome as a fail-safe. So after just two generations,
at most only half of the offspring would carry the engineered gene. In a population
of billions of mosquitoes they would hardly make a difference. A genetic engineering method called the gene drive solves this problem. It forces the new gene to become
dominant in the following generations overpowering the old gene almost
completely. Thanks to this twist, 99.5% of all
the engineered mosquitoes offspring will carry the anti-malaria edit. If we were
to release enough engineered mosquitoes into the wild to mate with normal mosquitoes,
the malaria blocking gene would spread extremely quickly. As the new gene becomes a permanent feature of the mosquito population, Plasmodium would
lose its home base. Scientists hope that the change would be
so fast that they could not adapt to it quickly enough. Malaria could virtually
disappear. If you take into account that maybe half a million children are killed
by it every year, about five have died since this video started. Some scientists
argue that we should use the technology sooner, rather than later. The mosquitoes themselves would probably
only profit from this, they don’t have anything to gain from carrying parasites
and this might only be the first step Malaria might just be the beginning. Different mosquitoes also carry Dengue fever and Zika, ticks transmit Lyme
disease, flies transmit sleeping sickness fleas transmit the plague. We could save
millions of lives and prevent suffering on an unbelievable scale. So, why haven’t we
done this yet? For one, CRISPR editing is barely four years old, so until very
recently we just couldn’t do it as fast and easily. And there are valid concerns. Never before have humans consciously
changed the genetic code of a free-living organism on this scale. Once we do it, there is no going back. So it has to be
done right, because there could be unwanted consequences if we set out to
edit nature. In this specific case of malaria though,
the risk might be acceptable since the genetic modification doesn’t
make a big change in the overall genome. It only changes a very specific part. The worst-case scenario here, is probably that it might not work or that the
parasite adapts in a negative way. There is still much debate. Technology as powerful as gene drive, needs to be handled with a lot of care but at some
point we have to ask ourselves: Is it unethical to not use this technology,
when every day 1,000 children die. Humanity has to decide how to act on
this in the next few years. The public discussion is way behind the technology
in this case. What do you think? This video was made possible in part by
viewer donations on Patreon. If you want to help us make more videos like this
and get nice rewards in return you can do so here. We really appreciate it. If
you want to learn more about the topic of genetic engineering, we have another
video about CRISPR and GMOs, and in case that’s too much biology for you, here’s a
space playlist.

About the author


  1. Eventhough it's impossible to fully simulate the effect of it. They should try to simulate in a smaller controlled ecosystem and just make sure nothing unexpected happens. If something goes wrong someone didn't expect it's a very fast chain reaction that no one could stop.

  2. yea stop killing spiders everyone
    every spider you kill makes another human get a disease

    and that might be you who get the disease…

  3. this guy does not even seem to be speaking English !!! looks like a Brazilian speaking me huh.

    Edit: give me a thumbs up guys if you like it will be many years awaken friends and besides that the technology will be more evolved and will be cheap for those who can't afford to buy

    edit 2: it all costs just one like you please wanted to get a lot of likes !!!! from a like too and so you won't get this dangerous disease ok just from a like i'm not american so it's very hard to write english thanks for understanding.

  4. just make everyone shoot mini guns in the air pretty sure mosquitos will be extinct maybe get some fly's killed too might kill some birds but it's ok

  5. One million and 46 thousand people had died of malaria since this video was uploaded.
    I think the answer is pretty clear.

  6. I think we should use the genetically modified mosquitos because that could be our last hope of I right…then give a like to this post..

  7. 1:58 is a great explination of what humans are to our universe. We are a virus that spreads and multiplies until it needs to leave the bubble to find other bubbles to take all of the energy from and leave waste everywhere! Space exploration is death to the cells of god. pretty cool right

  8. I believe we should move forward on engineering insects, birds, animals, fishes and even human. But I don't believe that engineering viruses is a good Idea, you can develops a deathly virus that can wipe out the human population.

  9. I wonder if you could add genes that make it so the mosquitos by generation 10 (or whatever) can't reproduce.

  10. I read an article saying that some humans RBCs have evolved/mutated to adapt malaria by making the RBC cell volume smaller and thus causing less chance of infection and more time for the body to fight the parasite.
    Is that true?

  11. just let it kill poeple need to die because over populashon plus what if it goes wrong its the surcle of lifedude

  12. Pfft. It's already been done :/. Malaria is a problem only in peripheral villages in Africa and rarely in Capital Cities. Why?

  13. I like when you make someone said oh God a Muto from Godzilla 2014 I love Godzilla and I'm glad I watch this video because it's amazing when you made someone said that it was so cool can you involve more Godzilla stuff in your videos I would really like that even involve a parasite that can even kill Godzilla which is the muto but another parasite that could kill him

  14. Another thought ,Our immune system is so complex and strong , but complex virus and bacteria made our immune system evolved to be this complex , should we eradicate malaria or just find a cure , or a good way to treat it?

  15. But if we change the mosquito DNA,population human exploded and Earth can't accommodate the humans,Earth will be full.

  16. I watched enough of zombie and virus outbreak movies to know how that's going to end if they release DNA modified mosquitoes into the wild

  17. August 2nd 2021,

    – fixed a bug where mosquitos were killing people
    -Added 3 more memes find them yourself
    -released fortnite 2

  18. What if they let a normal mosquito mate with a modified one and lock him up to see if they behave differently and if the malaria parasite can’t be carried by it anymore

  19. With crisper we’re playing god and making adaptations that would take centuries can’t wait to see this used in war

  20. unless humans are heading towards definite extinction, we should use a technology so poorly understood. We've shown ourselves plenty of times to be woefully incapable of understanding the full consequences of our actions.

  21. this is so extreme dangerous. This is like do a Quick step in evolution! When only one of 100 will get a negative side effect… after a couple years we could have a giant unsolvable problem! We can easy play around in our own DNA (what will horrily go wrong enough) bcs we are a much much smaller population and more controllable than animals or insects living in the wild.
    This is uncontrollable and everybody knows nature isnt perfect and the changed DNA will 100% not be perfect after a couple generations out in the wild.

  22. killing someone from the inside and then taking their skin for camo, eh?

    sounds ever so slightly similar to a certain HORROR game i know…

  23. i'm a long term eugenistic guy so yup i think is okay but need to create a law can create another : don't use for modifie the ARM production and the weak genemo ! why weak gneome mute in bad or good way is impacct evolution and virtually we can become god but human where to stupide to mange this power and two ARM ( i'm french so maybe RAM in english like ADN come DNA ?) because is the base our personnal adaptation and the thing can create individuality

  24. If a Chinese Scientist could change a humans gene then it's perfectly ethical to change mosquito gene to save life of millions.

  25. But if we could stop 1000 kids diying that means the general population would explode and to much humans is also bad

  26. We need disease to control the population. We need less humans not more. Everything in life exists for a reason. Scientists need to use CRISPR to stop humans from having offspring.

  27. I think we should modify mosquitos to become extinct. This insect has no benefits for us humans nor is affecting the food chain too much. Also exterminating wasps would not be a bad idea. I hate wasps.

  28. Tho grim in my point of view its better to leave it alone or create better medcine the more we play god the more it drives things off to a worse future. Sure at first it may be nice to do this but what will happen to these children who are no longer dying as the world population grows even with their deaths. Humanity has already taken too much from nature that.. Continuing theses types of efforts would just cuase more problems.

  29. if it was on my choose i would EDIT EVERYTHING! including gekos with wings. horses with horns y wings. Biggger much BIGGERs BETA FISHS and jumping spiders from the size of a tarantula.
    I also would would change ALL THE SPIDERS VENOM, REDUCING ITS EFFECT TO JUST A TEMPORARY PARALIZY. so no one would die anymore due snike bites and these animals would still use the venom to hunt.
    oh…and for last but not for least…I also would make fused animals and plants, creating a brand new fauna and flora.

    greetings from Brazil

  30. I agree with this. I think we should release these mosquitoes, but first test modified and non-modified to check if it works first.

  31. This will 100% cause over population which has a higher negative effect than mosquitoes. I'de explian in further detail but it would take to much time.

  32. population is explosion so malaria and others viruses try to make balance i prfer to die because malaria then by crowded

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