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.

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100 thoughts on “Genetic Engineering and Diseases – Gene Drive & Malaria

  1. I think that genetic engineering is a very risky thing to do, and that while it is extremely useful for helping us survive, in the end game it could fall into the wrong hands and be used as a weapon. Imagine a new species of genetically modified fleas that carry a disease like the plague being released into a country for warfare! In conclusion I think genetic engineering should be utilized, but very, very carefully.

  2. Scientist: Release the genetically engineered mosquitos…
    1 year later
    Scientist: Where the fuck did these zombies come from?

  3. I'm sorry but a lot of us have to be thinking this…
    And if it is just me then…I may regret this

    Over population?

  4. They will never do that. reason is easy – Malaria. mostly, is "neglected", poor man's desease. Its almost non existant in wealthly countries due climate or good medicare and for "3rd world" – nobody cares. Nor wealthy countries nor local corrupted governments. So – no game. There is crapload of such parasitic deseases, but they not defeated not because we cant, but because nobody interested (profiting enough) from that.

  5. Wipe out mosquitoes. There are more than one disease they carry. They need to just cease to exist. The carrier is the problem, not the specific diseases.

  6. Malaria should mutate and merge with the Zika virus and reduce human fertility by 80% that would be fantastic! No more kids finally!

  7. I think that this is good idea, but we must be carefull to not overuse this "strategy" because one mistake and we could accidentally mutate moskitous with some side-effect that wouldnt be good for either us or moskitos

  8. I would say changing the nature irreversibly is too risky. We never know what will happen to the whole ecosystem. Doesn't mean that I don't want to combat malaria.

  9. I think they should use some controlled experiments before releasing the bugs. Use a really large observatory to create an accurate environment to what they would b introduced to (including native and invasive species of said area) to ensure nothing they dont expect to happen will

  10. Кажись мир просыпается и скоро мы освободимся от микробов(микро-роботов)

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    وأبـغـى أبــشــركــم😉 أنــي حـصـلـت عـلـى مـعـلـومـات مـفـيـدة✅ هــتــنــفــعــكــم كـثـيـر ومـجـربـهـا كـمـان ونـفـعـتـنـي🤩🥳
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  12. All of this has benefit to the human race, but what are the consequences to the eco-system of the planet? Death is part of the cycle of life, would modifying the DNA effect the deaths of animals world wide and cause an temporary imbalance? Could that screw the world?

  13. A lot of people I talk to are against Genetic Engineering but I think it's pretty cool. People argue with the movie gattica. I argue with that we already live in this world with anti-vax, abortions and more. We are able to detect defects and choose if you want to try again. So why not be able to choose everything else? It would also save billions of lives.

  14. Türkçe alt yazi eklenmesinde kimlerin emeği emeği geçtiyse teşekkürü bir borç bilirim.Iyi ki varsiniz sayanizde merak ediyoruz ögreniyoruz ve cehalete karsi olan bu savasi sizin sayenizde sürdürmeye devam ediyoruz.Dilimi ceviri yapicak kadar gelistirince size olan borçumu söz ödüyecegim.

  15. I've got Malaria during my TOD (tour of duty) in South Sudan. Almost got killed. The UN hospital treated me, while the MSF (Medecins sans frontiers) were treating locals.

  16. As someone who gets tons of mosquito bits every day most days in spring/summer/parts of fall Im terrified of malaria. I also get huge rashes from mosquito bits and one gave me a scar on my leg

  17. I don't really know if you should release these "malaria-free" mosquitoes into the wild, but to me it depends on how likely it is to go completely wrong. If it's over 10%, DON'T DO IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! If it's below that, WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?!?!? But if it's undetermined, find out if you can. If you can't, you're on your own. Conduct some experiments or don't, I don't really know. It's just my opinion.

  18. I personally am looking forward to a world where using crispr is normal. I mean think about all the things we could do: Cure cancer, eradicate sicknesses and of course there's going to be cosmetic applications as well. You could change your hair- or eye-colour. Prevent hair-loss. Stop hair-growth in places you don't want them to grow. Make transphobes shut up for a week because suddenly trans women DO have XX-chromosomes and trans men DO have XY-chromosomes.

  19. test it in a closed-off environment (with enough emergency precautions, so no mosquito escapes). look at how the mutation evolves. and how the bacteria evolve. then kill all test subjects.

  20. I don't understand the question at all. Worst case – the parasite will adapt. No sweat. Regular case – 500000 lives per year are saved, and, more important, 100 millions or so people are not suffering from malaria – which is just great. Human suffer is probably the most important thing to prevent. So?

  21. Just my opinion but this may be a great way to get rid of malaria.. what if the virus adapts into a resistant form that's even more dangerous? Secondly, aren't we facing over population? If we mess around with mother nature's balancing act could we open pandora's box and seal our fate in the near future? Don't get me wrong it would be amazing to eradicate serious illnesses and prolong human life but nature will always win no matter how smart we become.

  22. All they need to do is just test this, mosquitos are not hard insects to breed they just need about 5 or 6 grams of blood throughout their entire mating life.

  23. Im adopted from Ethiopia, both of my parents died when i was 9 months old due to malaria. I am lucky to have made it to the us a gotten medical care so i could live. When i was adopted I had hepititas, worms, and I was showing symptoms of malaria. But I'm alive and well now and grateful.

  24. Bence tam geliştirildikten sonra salınması daha doğru çünkü tam geliştirilmeden salındı ve bir sorun yüzünden 1000 çocuk ölürken 4000-5000 çocuk ölebilir sonradan salınması bence daha iyi.

  25. "The deadliest animal on the planet, responsible for the death of billions; The mighty mosquito."

    Excuse me, whatever happened to bacteriophages?

    (Don't take this seriously this is a joke)

  26. I'm totally for it, but scientists should make a failsafe. Something that is proven completely immune to anything in these and eats them.
    There's always the chance something worse than malaria can form and that's pretty fucking bad. So yeah, failsafe is a good idea.

  27. As someone who almost died from malaria and just caught it at the come stage , I think we should use these genetic engineered mosquitoes

  28. As someone who almost died from malaria and just caught it at the comma stage , I think we should use these genetic engineered mosquitoes

  29. I personally think they should experiment on a lab ecosystem and release the engineered mosquito to see how it effects the rest of the ecosystem.

  30. do you want to know something I have had through my travels dengue fever Plasmodium falciparum and malariae I have I long history with malaria but it's kinda fun being in the middle of it you wish you were dead the first part but then it gets interesting

  31. The story of Malaria has become a story of First World arrogance. The U.S. CDC was originally founded in order to fight malaria in the U.S. Malaria used to be present in many more places than it currently is. How did we eradicate malaria from the 1st world? We used DDT. DDT is the "controversial" chemical talked about in Silent Spring. If you've ever read some of Silent Spring, you'll know how reactionary, emotional, and unscientific it is, yet it scared everyone out of using DDT, a convenient and easy choice to show our virtues after DDT had already eradicated malaria in the places people cared about.

    There's no real evidence to show it was a health risk to humans (baby boomers, who grew up at the height of DDT usage are living long enough to be a strain on the medical sector), and after decades of DDT spraying, the damage to the ecosystem was so minimal that it was ultimately recoverable in a few years. What about Africa? the jungles of South America? oh well, we said you can't use DDT because it is bad. Easy for us to say when we don't have millions of people dying from malaria. Finally, after years and years, people are coming back around to it. India said, "screw you guys," and domestically produces DDT. It is used in Africa and other places as well, but to a much lesser extent (DDT paint, other DDT infused product) than it was in the days where DDT trucks sprayed clouds into city streets.

  32. Worth a try, we've been suffering under malaria for all of human history, it is time to liberate ourselves. To arms, humanity, we shall take up arms against this terrible disease, and eradicate it.

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