In addition to being incredibly annoying, mosquitoes have the uncanny ability to spread nasty diseases like malaria and dengue fever–a disease that affects nearly 100 million people annually. Now researchers believe that they’ve found a sustainable answer to the dengue fever problem: genetically engineered mosquitoes.

Dengue is spread by bites from infected female mosquitoes. Researchers believe that by genetically altering male mosquitoes to mate with females and produce offspring that have a gene for “lame”, unusable wings, they can dramatically stop the spread of the disease. If genetically altered males are released into the wild, the mosquitoes could infiltrate the native population and stop the spread of dengue fever within just six to nine months.

There are a number of advantages to this technique. It doesn’t require toxic insecticides, it only affects the specific types of mosquitos that spread dengue fever, and it provides equal protection for everyone, regardless of their access to healthcare. So we have to ask: how long until the genetically engineered mosquitoes get moving?

+Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

Via BBC News