A new study from the University of Missouri and Colorado State University, published in the journal Viruses, indicates that CRISPR gene-edited mosquitoes could be resistant to the Zika virus. The modified insects could interrupt the disease cycle, affecting the capacity of female mosquitoes to bite and transmit the disease.

Scientists inserted an artificial gene into the mosquitoes’ genome that triggers an immune pathway in their midgut to recognise and destroy the RNA genome of the Zika virus. The modification is inheritable which would make future mosquito generations resistant to the virus as well, Professor Alexander Franz from the University of Missouri explains.

Zika virus disease is caused by a virus transmitted primarily by Aedes mosquitoes, a species that is more active during the day. For most people it is a very mild infection and is not harmful. However, a Zika virus infection during pregnancy can be the cause of congenital brain malformations, including microcephaly, according to the World Health Organization.

Learn more about this discovery by visiting the University of Missouri’s website.