Genetically modified mosquitoes for controlling vector-borne diseases? Successful trial gives hope

T. Deol,  Down To Earth,  2022.

Preliminary results of an open-air study of genetically engineered mosquitoes — with an aim to suppress a wild population of virus-carrying mosquitoes — in the United States have shown promising results. The aim of the experiment by Oxitec, a United Kingdom-based biotechnology firm, is to reduce the population of wild Aedes aegypti mosquitoes that is a vector for viruses such as chikungunya, dengue, zika and yellow fever. The scientists engineered a gene that will kill the female offspring. The results, achieved after a decade-long fight for public acceptance and regulatory approvals, are not enough. Larger studies are needed to understand whether the goal can be achieved or not. Their findings, yet to be published, were released during a webinar on 6 April. The experiment began in April 2021 in the Florida Keys but not without resistance from the residents. Their concerns ranged from the modified mosquitoes harming people, its impact on mosquito-eating species and other unintended consequences such as the emergence of a deadly virus.

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