Genetically modified mosquitoes could prove effective in tackling dengue fever and other insect-borne diseases, a UK-based scientific team has shown. The male mosquitoes are modified so their offspring die before reproducing.
In a dengue-affected part of the Cayman Islands, researchers found the GM males mated successfully with wild females.
In Nature Biotechnology journal, they say such mating has not before been proven in the wild, and could cut the number of disease-carrying mosquitoes.
Dengue is caused by a virus transmitted by the Aedes aegypti mosquito as it bites.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that there may be 50 million cases each year, and the incidence is rising, with some countries reporting what the WHO terms “explosive” outbreaks.
As yet, there is no vaccine.
As far back as the 1940s, it was realised that releasing sterile males into the wild could control insects that carried disease or were agricultural pests.
When females breed with the sterile males rather than wild fertile ones, there will be no viable offspring, meaning there are fewer mosquitoes around to transmit the disease.
In the 1950s, the screwworm fly was eradicated from the Caribbean island of Curacao using males sterilised by radiation.
But the technology has not worked so well with disease-carrying insects.
Generally, the sterilising process weakens the males so much that they struggle to mate; the wild males are dominant.
Oxitec, a company spun off from Oxford University, uses a genetic engineering approach.
The madness ensues, I bet this group of scientist got their training in the JEKYLL & HYDE PROGRAM with a focus in World Domination at Oxford.