Genetically Engineered Mosquitos Could Prevent Dengue Fever

by , 02/24/10
filed under: Design, Design for Health

dengue fever, mosquitoes, malaria, africa, green design

In addition to being incredibly annoying, mosquitoes have the uncanny ability to spread nasty diseases like malaria and dengue fever–a disease that affects nearly 100 million people annually. Now researchers believe that they’ve found a sustainable answer to the dengue fever problem: genetically engineered mosquitoes.

Dengue is spread by bites from infected female mosquitoes. Researchers believe that by genetically altering male mosquitoes to mate with females and produce offspring that have a gene for “lame”, unusable wings, they can dramatically stop the spread of the disease. If genetically altered males are released into the wild, the mosquitoes could infiltrate the native population and stop the spread of dengue fever within just six to nine months.

There are a number of advantages to this technique. It doesn’t require toxic insecticides, it only affects the specific types of mosquitos that spread dengue fever, and it provides equal protection for everyone, regardless of their access to healthcare. So we have to ask: how long until the genetically engineered mosquitoes get moving?

+Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

Via BBC News

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  1. dbrian March 13, 2012 at 1:55 pm

    There are some non-toxic and natural mosquito products available that are safe on humans & animals and works as effective as any other product. here is an example

  2. Are African Babies Dyin... June 27, 2010 at 4:00 pm

    […] the greatest weight given to those under just five years old – this is no mere situation of man in the face of unassuming nature; the source of the problem extends much further. Further west, in fact. Because of pressure from […]

  3. Dan7820 April 20, 2010 at 1:32 pm

    Genetic modification seems like a viable long-term solution. Another long-term solution I found is the Mosquito Magnet, which kills mosquitoes in an area up to one acre.
    Here’s an example of one:

  4. Laorosa February 24, 2010 at 6:37 pm

    I’m curious how these genetically engineered ‘Flightless’ mosquitoes will affect the natural food chain down the road. There are many animals that depend on mosquitoes for food. I understand and appreciate what they are trying to accomplish, but years later if this plan ‘goes bad’ … is it reversible? What are the precautions that are panned if this idea backfires?
    ….I was watching Jurassic Park the other day and this story reminded me of that. :)

  5. mazilu February 24, 2010 at 2:28 pm

    It seems like these “lame”-winged mosquitoes would not infiltrate the population as easily as those with fully functional wings. I’m not an authority on mosquitoes or their life cycle, but I would think this trait would not be evolutionarily favored, leading it to be lost fairly quickly, and as a result a HUGE waste of resources…

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