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pgSIT: CRISPR-based system developed to control growth of mosquitoes

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    Science & Technology
  • Published
    15th Sep, 2021


Using advancements in CRISPR-based genetic engineering, researchers have created a system that restrains populations of mosquitoes. The technique is a precision-guided sterile insect technique or pgSIT.

About Precision-guided sterile insect technique (pgSIT)

  • The “precision-guided sterile insect technique” (pgSIT), alters genes linked to male fertility—creating sterile offspring—and female flight in Aedes aegypti.
    • The mosquito species is responsible for spreading diseases including dengue fever, chikungunya and Zika.
  • The pgSIT uses CRISPR to sterilise male mosquitoes and render female mosquitoes (which spread disease) flightless. 
  • The system is self-limiting and is not predicted to persist or spread in the environment.
  • pgSIT eggs can be shipped to a location threatened by mosquito-borne disease or developed at an on-site facility that could produce the eggs for nearby deployment.
  • Once the pgSIT eggs are released in the wild, sterile pgSIT males will emerge and eventually mate with females, driving down the wild population as needed.

Clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR)

  • CRISPR is a highly precise gene editing tool that is changing cancer research and treatment.
  • Ever since scientists realized that changes in DNA cause cancer, they have been searching for an easy way to correct those changes by manipulating DNA. 
  • They are used to detect and destroy DNA from similar bacteriophages during subsequent infections.