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What! Genetically Engineered (GE) Mosquitos that can’t spread dengue.

April 21, 2012
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Main symptoms of dengue fever. To discuss imag...

Dengue distribution in 2006. Red : Epidemic de...

Dengue distribution in 2006. Red : Epidemic dengue and Ae. aegypti Aqua : Just Ae. aegypti (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What! Genetically Engineered (GE)Mosquitos that can’t spread dengue.

Meaning of DENGUE: also known as breakbone fever, is an infectious tropical disease caused by the dengue virus. Symptoms include fever, headache, muscle and joint pains, and a characteristic skin rash that is similar to measles. In a small proportion of cases the disease develops into the life-threatening dengue hemorrhagic fever, resulting in  blood plasma leakage, or into dengue shock syndrome. Dengue is transmitted by several species of mosquito

What! Genetically Engineered (GE) Mosquitos that can’t spread dengue.

Sandro Contenta Feature Writer  Anthony James is a mosquito’s worst nightmare — a female mosquito’s, to be exact. James is at the cutting edge of a tiny scientific community genetically modifying the bugs to combat dengue, a mosquito-borne infection that strikes up to 100 million people a year and is a leading killer of children in some Asian and Latin American countries. In their sights is also malaria, an even deadlier parasite.

It’s a sensitive endeavour, with public fears of mutated species wreaking havoc in ecosystems. So if you haven’t heard of James, a microbiologist at the University of California, Irvine, it’s partly because he has done his job well.

He and his team just ended a year-long experiment in southern Mexico. They tested an engineered gene that renders female mosquitoes — the gender that transmits dengue through bites — harmless by making them unable to fly.

The World Health Organization stepped up efforts to draft guidelines when, in September 2009, Grand Cayman island in the Caribbean became the site of the world’s first release of genetically engineered mosquitoes into the wild.

Some 3.3 million male mosquitoes, all of them made sterile by genetic modification, were released in stages over 16 hectares of land by the British company Oxitec and the Cayman Islands’ Mosquito Research and Control Unit, a government agency.

In the mid-2000s, James’ collaboration with Alphey resulted in an engineered gene that prevents female Aedes aegypti mosquitoes from developing flight muscles. Male mosquitoes, however, can carry the gene and still fly. In lab experiments, these males were then released on unsuspecting, non-engineered females.

“The males did what males do best, which is to find females and mate with them,” James says. “Their daughters are born flightless — they’re easy prey, they can’t seek blood, they can’t become infected, they can’t transmit (dengue).” Read More…

Photo by Centers for Disease Control and/THE CANADIAN PRESS...A team of microbiologists has engineered a mosquito that can’t spread dengue, which affects up to 100,000 million people a year.

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