By Rebeca Carballar-Lejarazú, University of California Malaria Initiative (UCMI)

Malaria continues to be one of the world’s most serious infectious diseases, claiming the lives of over half a million people every year. Although countries around the world largely held the line against further setbacks to malaria prevention and treatment during the COVID-19 pandemic, the fight against malaria is still at a precarious juncture. Efforts to curb the spread of the disease face a convergence of threats, particularly in the African Region, which accounted for 96% of deaths in 2021.

In the face of stalled progress, research into the development of new strategies for the prevention, treatment and control of malaria is essential. Emerging technologies such as synthetic gene drive systems offer the potential to modify or suppress vector mosquito populations and could provide a promising approach to help reduce the burden of the disease.