By Dr. Amelie Wamba, Coordinator of the Gene Drive Project, Pan-African Mosquito Control Association (PAMCA)

The Pan-African Mosquito Control Association (PAMCA) ⁠and the Outreach Network for Gene Drive Research recently hosted the first of three webinars, as part of the Gene Drive Webinar Series. I had the pleasure of moderating this session called ⁠"What is gene drive?", which gathered over 100 participants and provided participants with an introduction to gene drive tools and their potential benefits and challenges.

Dr. Tony Nolan, Liverpool School for Tropical Medicine, explaining why novel vector control approaches are needed.

By Rachel Martin, Extinction Solutions Index and Research Manager, Conservation X Labs

Today we celebrate World Nature Conservation Day, a day to raise awareness of the need to preserve nature and take urgent action to address conservation challenges. Our planet is headed towards a period of extraordinary change: a sixth mass extinction. Drivers of biodiversity loss such as climate change and invasive species, which directly impact biodiversity and ecosystems, have worsened. Existing approaches have led to many successful conservation initiatives but have been unable to reverse biodiversity loss trends.

The fight against malaria has seen impressive accomplishments in the last two decades. It has helped avert more than 7 million deaths and 1.5 billion cases of the disease. Nevertheless, progress has stalled in recent years and malaria remains a public health threat, particularly in the African region, which accounted for over 90% of malaria cases and deaths in 2021, according to the latest World Malaria Report.

Emerging challenges such as the spread of insecticide and antimalarial drug resistance have demonstrated the need for new approaches to control the disease. One of the novel interventions being considered focuses on targeting the mosquitoes responsible for malaria transmission through the use of genetic modification. A recently published article in the journal Nature looks at the history, evolution and current status of research to develop genetically modified mosquitoes to control malaria.

Mosquito larvae under a microscope. Photograph: Target Malaria

An interview with Kelly Willis, Managing Director of Strategic Initiatives at Malaria No More

Ever since its inception in 2006, Malaria No More (MNM) has been working to mobilize the political commitment, funding, and innovation required to end malaria within our generation. Kelly Willis is the Managing Director of Strategic Initiatives at MNM, responsible for the oversight and growth of the organization’s high impact programs and partnerships around the world. She has more than 20 years of experience working in infectious disease and global health. In this interview, Willis discusses the impact of climate change on malaria, how Malaria No More is innovating to support the fight against the disease and the role of the Forecasting Healthy Futures consortium.

By Jamie Perera, Composer & Sound Artist

Target Malaria is a not-for-profit research consortium working to develop an innovative genetic technology to reduce malaria transmission. In 2018, the Target Malaria team at Imperial College London published a landmark paper in Nature Biotechnology which demonstrated how gene drive mosquitoes could successfully suppress a population of wild-type malaria mosquitoes. Last year, the consortium partnered with London-based sound artist and composer, Jamie Perera, to transform data from the gene drive cage trials described in the paper into sound. The resulting piece, called “Swarm, was showcased at this year’s Great Exhibition Road Festival in London. Jamie Perera tells us more about the inspiration and work that went into creating this piece in the blog below.