Gene engineers say they can deliver a stunning blow to malaria by modifying mosquitoes so that they no longer hand on the parasite that causes the disease.

The transgenic insects can “add a new weapon to the arsenal” of drugs and insecticides against a disease estimated to kill up to 2.7 million people a year, say a team led by Marcelo Jacobs-Lorena at Caste Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio.

The technique attacks the microscopic parasite Plasmodium at one of the key points in its complex cycle.