PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – You have heard of genetic engineering. It always sounds fascinating but years of watching science fiction movies about animals gone wild have made it frightening.

However, the latest report in the journal Nature might interest you. Scientists have demonstrated a mechanism that could reduce the incidence of malaria by genetically manipulating mosquito populations.

It could represent an important step towards the genetic control of insects for disease management. The researchers found that a modified genetic element called a homing endonuclease gene can spread through caged populations of mosquitoes. This clings to a particular portion of the DNA, where it becomes integrated into the broken chromosome.

This process — genetic drive — could be used to transmit a genetic manipulation through a population of mosquitoes that affects the insects’ ability to spread malaria.

Reported By Dr. Brian McDonough, KYW Newsradio Medical Editor

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