Environment friendly way to curb dengue transmission
Last Updated: Tuesday, February 23, 2010, 00:00

Washington: Scientists have found an
environmentally friendly way to curb the transmission of
dengue fever that affects nearly 100 million people across the
globe every year.

Researchers from University of California in Irvine and
University of Oxford have developed a new strain of mosquitoes
in which females cannot fly and males are unable to bite and
when these genetically altered insects mate with wild ones,
they pass on their genes.

"As a result, the females of the next generation are
unable to fly," the scientists said, adding "if released, the
new breed could sustainably suppress the native mosquito
population in six to nine months".

"The technology is completely species-specific, as the
released males will mate only with females of the same
species," senior author Luke Alphey said.

"It`s far more targeted and environmentally friendly than
approaches dependent upon the use of chemical spray
insecticides, which leave toxic residue," Alphey said.

According to the study that appeared in journal
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, "Current
dengue control methods are not sufficiently effective, and new
ones are urgently needed".

"Controlling the mosquito that transmits this virus could
significantly reduce human morbidity and mortality," lead
researcher Anthony James was quoted as saying by the Science

Dengue fever causes severe flu like symptoms and is among
the world`s most pressing public health issues. There are 50
million to 100 million cases per year, and nearly 40 per cent
of the global population is at risk.

The dengue virus is spread through the bite of infected
female Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, and there is no vaccine or

The team said, new breed of flightless females are
expected to die quickly in the wild, curtailing the number of
mosquitoes and reducing or even eliminating dengue
transmission, while males of the strain can fly but do not
bite or convey disease.

"Another attractive feature of this method is that it`s
egalitarian: All people in the treated areas are equally
protected, regardless of their wealth, power or education,"
they said.

Using concepts developed by Alphey, the researchers made
a genetic alteration in the mosquitoes that disrupts wing
muscle development in female offspring, rendering them
incapable of flight.

Males` ability to fly is unaffected, and they show no ill
effects from carrying the gene.

Bureau Report

First Published: Tuesday, February 23, 2010, 00:00

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