A new weapon to combat dengue and malaria-mosquitoes

In News

Scientist are on Phase 2 of trials underway in Jalna on ‘friendly’ mosquitoes genetically modified to cause offspring to die.

The “friendly Aedes” has  been trademarked by Oxitec.

Context

During monsoon season there rapid increase in number of mosquitoes causing dengue and malaria, Indian scientists are trying to develop genetically modified friendly mosquitoes which can be helpful in combating mosquito bite diseases. Handful of countries are already experimenting with for vector control programmes.

What is this experiment ?

  • Inside a nondescript mesh cage at Jalna in central Maharashtra, trials are underway on several generations of a “friendly” mosquitoes.

    Image result for GBIT mosquitoes

  • In the cage are hundreds of Aedes Aegypti vector mosquitoes, responsible for spreading dengue and chikungunya among other diseases, but engineered through advanced biotechnology to be self-limiting  in other words, genetically modified to cause offspring to die.
  • There is a regular quality check on the effectivity of the gene. We mate the OX513A male mosquito with the local female and check the mortality. That is the test of effectivity of the gene.

Similar Experiment

DMH-11 is a Genetically Modified (GM) mustard hybrid. Hybrids are normally obtained by crossing 2 genetically diverse plants from the same species. The 1st-generation offspring resulting from it has higher yields than what either of the parents is individually capable of giving.

Facts

  • The Aedes Aegypti mosquito, the vector responsible for dengue and chikungunya outbreaks.
  • GBIT brought in over 10,000-12,000 male OX513A mosquitoes from Oxitec in September 2011, several generations have evolved in its Jalna laboratory.
  • At Oxitec, over 150 generations of the mosquito have been tested by now, only batches getting tetracycline surviving into adulthood.
  • Oxitec is partnering with agencies in Brazil, Panama, the US and the Cayman Islands for trials and pilot projects.

Malaria : is a mosquito-borne infectious disease affecting humans and other animals caused by parasitic protozoans (a group of single-celled microorganisms) Malaria causes symptoms that typically include fever,feeling tired, vomiting, and headaches.

Chikungunya: It is an infection caused by the chikungunya virus (CHIKV).Symptoms include fever and joint pain.These typically occur two to twelve days after exposure. Other symptoms may include headache, muscle pain, joint swelling, and a rash.

Dengue fever: It is a mosquito-borne tropical disease caused by the dengue virus.Symptoms typically begin three to fourteen days after infection.This may include a high fever, headache, vomiting, muscle and joint pains, and a characteristic skin rash.

Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) director Dr Soumya Swaminathan agrees that there is a need for a “graded response” to trials around GM technology meant for disease control. “We definitely need to look for alternative technologies for the future,”

Future Scope of new weapon

  • GBIT expects to approach regulators seeking permissions for the next phase.
  • Limited trials in an open field.
  • By February or March 2018, we will be more or less ready and will submit results.

Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR)

The Indian Council of Medical Research, the apex body in India for the formulation, coordination and promotion of biomedical research, is one of the oldest and largest medical research bodies in the world.

Headquarters: New Delhi
Leader: Soumya Swaminathan
Type of business: Government Organisation
Formation: 1911 (as IRFA); 1949 (renamed to ICMR)

 

 

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