Genetically Engineered Mosquitoes Reduce Dengue Transmitters by 95 Percent

The results of a trial of genetically engineered mosquitoes intended to reduce their ability to transmit dengue fever have been published in the journal PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases.

The mosquitoes, commonly known as “Friendly Aedes aegypti” mosqitoes in Brazil where the trial took place, were developed by a company called Oxitec.

The results of the trial showed that the numbers of the mosquito (Aedes aegypti) that spreads dengue fever, yellow fever, chikungunya, and zika virus were reduced by more than 90%.

“The fact that the number of Aedes aegypti adults were reduced by 95% in the treatment area confirms that the Oxitec mosquito does what it is supposed to, and that is to get rid of mosquitoes,” said Dr. Andrew McKemey, head of field operations at Oxitec. “According to published mathematical models reviewed and recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) working group on dengue, it would also reduce the number of biting mosquitoes below the disease transmission threshold. The next step is to scale up to even larger studies and run mosquito control projects on an operational basis.”

The study, which took place in the Itaberaba neighborhood of Juazeiro city in Bahia State, was led by the University of São Paulo and Moscamed, a company that specializes in environmentally friendly pest control. The treatment area included a population of approximately 1,800 people.

How it works

This method of control is species-specific. The Oxitec male mosquitoes are released to mate with the pest females, and their offspring die before they can transmit the disease or reproduce because of a self-limiting gene. The mosquitoes also carry a color marker for monitoring, and the insects and their genes do not persist in the environment.

Mosquito control in Brazil

“This invasive mosquito and the diseases it carries is a real challenge,” said Professor Margareth Capurro of São Paulo University. “Aedes aegypti is developing resistance to insecticides, and even when we remove breeding sites they continue to reproduce and transmit diseases because they live in areas that are difficult to treat. This is why we need new tools. We knew that the Oxitec mosquito was a promising tool, so we wanted to independently evaluate its effectiveness here in Brazil.”

Dengue, chikungunya, and zika virus are debilitating diseases. There is currently no vaccine or specific medication for any of them. According to the WHO, the only way to combat dengue at present is to control the mosquitoes that spread the disease.

Read more at:

Suppression of a Field Population of Aedes aegypti in Brazil by Sustained Release of Transgenic Male Mosquitoes

Comments

  1. Wow, what great research!

  2. Neste Momento Julho/07/2015, no Brasil é inverno e tem uma queda natural populacional do Aedes significativamente altíssima. Esta nova ferramenta para evitarmos a proliferação do vetor e das doenças é bem vinda sim mas, ainda acreditamos muito na Educação Preventiva da população que hoje é feita e deverá ser ampliada por muitas vezes nos estados Brasileiros em 2016. Esta conscientização com mobilização da população pelo entendimento e compreensão ira facilitar no futuro mobilizar as comunidades a prevenir outras doenças de saúde pública. Vamos em frente…

  3. The time now July / 07/ 2015 in Brazil is winter and has a natural population decrease significantly the highest Aedes . This new tool to avoid the vector proliferation of diseases is welcome but yes , we still believe a lot in prevention education of the population that is now done and should be enlarged many times in the Brazilian states in 2016. This awareness with mobilization of the population by understanding and understanding will facilitate the future mobilizing communities to prevent other public health diseases. Let’s move on …

  4. This new technology should adopt at Dengue Endemic areas of all the continents. I hope this will exploit the reduction in Dengue cases and prevent mortality. Let us welcome new research outcomes.

  5. I’ve heard that there have been some deaths related to mosquitoes with some new disease is it possible that it is related to genetically modified mosquitoes from this research??

    • No, John. Not possible. The deaths are caused by the viruses mentioned in paragraph three, and they have been around for hundreds if not thousands of years. The GM mosquitoes would likely reduce the numbers of mosquitoes and consequently the number of human deaths.

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