GM Mosquitoes to Bring Down Dengue Cases
According to findings reported in the Nature Biotechnology journal, British researchers have found that Genetically Modified (GM) male mosquitoes may be effective in tackling dengue fever and other diseases transmitted by insects.
The researchers modified the mosquitoes so that their offspring died before they could reproduce. In 1999, GM males were released into a dengue affected area of the Cayman Islands and it was found that these males were able to successfully mate with females in the wild.
The logic behind such an experiment was that when the sterile males mate with dengue carrying females the offspring live through the larval stage but die before attaining adulthood. This helps in reducing the number of disease carrying mosquitoes from spreading the disease.
The experiments were carried out from Oxitec and the results of the experiment surprised the team that comprised of researchers from Imperial College London and the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine. They did not know that sterile males would be successful in mating as fertile males are quite aggressive.
The process aims to allow the larvae to hatch and stay alive for many days. Researchers say that this method should be helpful than the customary approach of producing infertile eggs, as the larvae will devour food that could otherwise be used by viable larvae from the union of fertile males and females.
The next thing to do is to demonstrate that using GM males does reduce the insect population enough to have an impact on the spread of dengue.
Oxitec chief scientific officer Luke Alphey said, ” For this method, you just need to get a reasonable proportion of the females to mate with GM males – you’ll never get the males as competitive as the wild ones, but they don’t have to be, they just have to be reasonably good.”
According to World Health Organization, every year there are almost 50 million cases of dengue fever, which are caused by a virus transmitted by the Aedes Aegypti mosquito.
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