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Malaria is a serious illness caused by the Plasmodium parasite, which places approximately 3.5 billion people at risk. Currently, preventative measures are key in combatting this disease. However, gene therapy is an emerging field that shows promising results for the treatment of malaria, by modifying cells through the delivery of genetic material. Most notable was the discovery of CRISPR-Cas9, which not only allows deleterious mutations to be repaired, but does so with specificity, speed, and simplicity. There are numerous ongoing trials focusing on gene therapy in malaria treatment and prevention. They involve different approaches such as the genetic modification of vector mosquitoes to interfere with malaria transmission, use of CRISPR-Cas9, maternal-effect dominant embryonic arrest, homing endonuclease gene drive systems, and the design of specific Morpholino oligomers to interfere with the expression of parasitic characteristics. Overall, this emerging field shows promising results to treat and prevent not just malaria, but other diseases such as cancer, diabetes, and obesity.
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