I'm Andrea Crisanti, I'm a professor of
molecular parasitology at Imperial College, London.
Today, I will talk about the work that we have carried
out in the lab during the last 10 years in
an effort to develop
a CRISPR-based suppression drive for vector control against malaria.
I'll take the opportunity to thank all the team in my lab,
the students, the technicians, the postdocs, and the research fellows.
Without their enthusiasm, dedication and knowledge,
the field of gene drive would be completely different today.
The next slide shows you why we are
interested in developing a vector control measure against malaria.
This disease is still one of the most important diseases
in the world, in terms of morbidity and mortality.
Half of the world's population is at risk from malaria, about 200 million people are infected every year, most of them in Africa.
About half a million people die as a consequence of malaria infection.
The people that die are either children or pregnant women,
these are the most vulnerable members of
the population in the poorest countries of the world.
Malaria is transmitted in Africa by
a few mosquito species belonging to the Anopheles genus,
which are Anopheles gambiae, Anopheles coluzzii,
Anopheles arabiensis and Anopheles funestus.
It's also important to remember that only the females transmit malaria.
Although there are 5,000 mosquito species in the world,
800 of which are in Africa,
only a few mosquito species transmit malaria.
The next slide shows what the available tools are to control malaria.
These are anti-malaria drugs, indoor residual spraying,
mosquito habitat removal, bed nets,
fumigation, and (with a question mark) vaccines.
Although researchers have been working on the development of a vaccine,
the available ones do not have the expected protection rates.