Synthetic biology mosquitoes: Pioneering solution emerges to counter fears over using genetic engineerting to control Zika

English, C,  Genetic Literacy Project,  2018.

In fall 2015, the biotech company Oxitec planned to release genetically engineered mosquitoes throughout the Florida Keys capable of stopping their wild relatives from spreading Zika, a dangerous virus that causes birth defects and damages the nervous system. These lab-bread insects carry a lethal gene that is only deactivated when the engineered mosquitoes are exposed to the antibiotic tetracycline. When they breed with their wild relatives, the mosquitoes pass this gene to their offspring. Because tetracycline isn’t available in nature, the offspring inevitably die when the gene is activated, which prevents them from transmitting Zika.