Dengue fever is caused by a Dengue virus carried by the Aedes aegypti mosquito and is spread throughout the world especially with tropical climates. Dengue few is one of the leading health concerns in tropical nations where their are hundreds of fatalities year after year. As the number of cases rises, the city of Piracicaba in Brazil has developed a potent weapon that though not against the virus directly but to its carrier. The city has been directly breeding a genetically modified mosquito lotharios by Oxitec of Abingdon, UK. These genetically modified mosquitoes which are all males are then spread throughout Brazil in order to combat the spread of the disease.
The city of Piracicaba have released more than six million of these modified insects that will then breed with the female mosquitoes in the area. As a result, the female mosquito will have the genetics from the GM male mosquito that will be transmitted into its larvae which in turn kill the larva before it reach adulthood. What’s more it that the larva also carries a genetic mutation which causes them to glow red against a UV light. This glowing characteristics of the larva will then benefit scientists in determining the success of the procedure.
Oxitec hopes to reduce Aedes aegypti population up to 95 per cent which will then reduce the number of infections but the remaining 5 per cent of this is still under investigation. As the procedure is still under testing, there’s still not enough data to prove its effectivity to fight off the disease as it could be that there are more number of mosquitoes but few of them are carrying the infection or a few but all of them are infected and that’s something that experts are looking into.
but as they are now reducing the number of carriers, so far the test results are promising and the FDA is looking forward into deployments as a preventive measure in Florida. While the agency has completed its initial review, it still opens its finding into public comments before they will make their final decision.
- Modified mosquitoes begin blitz on dengue in Brazilian city(newscientist.com)
- Gene-modded mosquitoes will fight Dengue Fever in Brazil(theunhivedmind.com)
- Modifying mosquitoes to stop transmission of dengue fever(myscienceacademy.org)