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Mosquitoes, genetically modified to stop the disease, undergo early testing

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May 9, 2022 – Genetically modified mosquitoes released in the US appear to have undergone early testing, suggesting that one day they may help reduce the population of insects that carry infectious diseases.

As part of the test, scientists released nearly 5 million genetically engineered men Aedes aegypti mosquitoes for 7 months in Florida Keys.

Male mosquitoes do not bite humans, and they have also been modified to pass on to offspring females a gene that causes them to die before they can reproduce. Theoretically, this means population Aedes aegypti mosquitoes eventually die out to no longer spread the disease.

The goal of this pilot project in Florida was to see if these genetically modified male mosquitoes could successfully mate with females in the wild, and to confirm whether their female offspring would die before they could reproduce. Of the two points the experiment was successful, Oxitec, the biotechnology company that develops these engineering Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, said Fr. webinar.

More testing in Florida and California

Based on the results of this preliminary study, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has approved additional pilot projects in Florida and California, the company said. statement.

“Given the growing health threat posed by this mosquito in the United States, we are working to make this technology available and accessible,” said Gray Frandsen, CEO of Oxitec. “These pilot programs, in which we can demonstrate the effectiveness of technology in different climatic conditions, will play an important role in this.”

Aedes aegypti mosquitoes can spread a number of severe infectious diseases people, including dengue, Zika, yellow fever and chikungunya, according to the CDC.

Preliminary tests of genetically modified mosquitoes have not been developed to determine whether these engineered insects can stop the spread of these diseases. The purpose of the initial trials was simply to see how reproduction occurs after the release of genetically modified males.

Genetically engineered males have successfully mated with females in the wild, the company said. Scientists have collected more than 22,000 eggs laid by these females from traps placed around the community in places such as flower pots and trash cans.

In the lab, researchers confirmed that female offspring from these couples inherited a deadly gene designed to cause their death before coming of age. Scientists have also found that the deadly gene was passed on to female offspring through several generations.

Many more tests will be needed before these genetically modified mosquitoes can be released into the wild on a larger scale – especially because tests so far have not shown that these projected errors can prevent the spread of infectious diseases.

Release of genetically modified Aedes aegypti Mosquitoes in the wild do not reduce the need for pesticides because most mosquitoes in the United States are not of this species.

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