Good news in the fight against vector-borne diseases

K. Magori,  ,  2022.

At the turn of the century, several research groups attempted to apply modern genetic methodologies to achieve similar outcomes without the need for irradiation and the resulting fitness costs. Luke Alphey and his colleagues at Oxford University developed a dominant lethal genetic system for autocidal control in the Mediterranean fruitfly, where a transactivator causes lethality in the early developmental stages of heterozygous insects unless repressed by tetracycline. The company he funded (Oxitec Limited) successfully adapted this system in several agriculturally important pest species, as well as in Aedes aegypti and other mosquitoes. (Full disclosure: I worked at Oxitec Limited in 2007, but own no shares or have any other conflict of interest with them). While the first generation of these mosquitoes proved to successfully reduce wild-type mosquito populations, they required labor-intensive separation of male and female mosquitoes before release in close proximity. While this ensured that only non-biting male mosquitoes are released, it also limited the scalability of this approach.

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