Curbing Denge

In an effort to curb the spread of dengue fever, scientists are breeding a genetically altered strain of mosquito, the insects which typically carry the disease, to counteract its effects.

In an effort to curb the spread of dengue fever, scientists are breeding a genetically altered strain of mosquito, the insects which typically carry the disease, to counteract its effects. "The dengue virus is spread by the bite of infected female mosquitoes and there is no vaccine or treatment. Experts say the illness affects up to 100 million people a year and threatens over a third of the world's population. Scientists hope their genetically altered males will mate with females to create female offspring that will inherit a gene limiting wing growth. The study is published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The scientists say their approach offers a safe, efficient alternative to harmful insecticides and could be used to stop other diseases spread by mosquitoes, like malaria. They estimate that if released, the new breed could sustainably suppress the native mosquito population in six to nine months. Researcher Professor Anthony James, of the University of California, Irvine, said: ‘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.’"

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