Novel molecular approaches to combat vectors and vector-borne viruses: Special focus on RNA interference (RNAi) mechanisms

A. Agarwal, D. K. Sarma, D. Chaurasia and H. S. Maan,  Acta Tropica,  2022.

Vector-borne diseases, such as dengue, chikungunya, zika, yellow fever etc pose significant burden among the infectious diseases globally, especially in tropical and sub-tropical regions. Globalization, deforestation, urbanization, climate change, uncontrolled population growth, inadequate waste management and poor vector-management infrastructure have all contributed to the expansion of vector habitats and subsequent increase in vector-borne diseases throughout the world. Conventional vector control methods, such as use of insecticides, have significant negative environmental repercussions in addition to developing resistance in vectors. Till date, a very few vaccines or antiviral therapies have been approved for the treatment of vector borne diseases. In this review, we have discussed emerging molecular approaches like CRISPR (clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats)/Cas-9, sterile insect technique (SIT), release of insects carrying a dominant lethal (RIDL), Wolbachia (virus transmission blocking) and RNA interference (RNAi) to combat vector and vector-borne viruses. Due to the extensive advancements in RNAi research, a special focus has been given on its types, biogenesis, mechanism of action, delivery and experimental studies evaluating their application as anti-mosquito and anti-viral agent. These technologies appear to be highly promising in terms of contributing to vector control and antiviral drug development, and hence can be used to reduce global vector and vector-borne disease burden.

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