Mosquitoes, head injuries, fires
EVERY YEAR, MOSQUITOES cause an estimated 400,000 malaria-related deaths. But disease-battling scientists such as Omar Akbari, a molecular biologist at the University of California at San Diego, say there’s a way to stop it: Get rid of the offending critters altogether. The DNA-editing tool CRISPR allows scientists to manipulate a mosquito’s genome in the lab and send it back into the wild. Introducing genes that sterilize the malaria-spreading female Anopheles mosquitoes could force that population into extinction, taking malaria down with it. But geneticists must also consider the mosquito’s ecological niche: The bug is part of a healthy diet for animals such as fish and birds.