Mosquito-borne diseases are a leading cause of death all over the world. Mosquitoes like Aedes aegypti carry viruses such as chikungunya, dengue, zika and yellow fever. In India, around 40 million people contract mosquito-borne diseases annually. A US-based Biotech firm, ‘Oxitec’ has come up with a solution to reduce the number of these mosquitoes.
Oxitec released nearly five million engineered Aedes aegypti mosquitoes over the course of seven months. Oxitec’s engineered males carry a gene that is lethal to the female offspring.
The engineered males mate with wild females and their female offspring die before reproducing. Male offspring will also carry the gene and pass it on to reduce the population over each generation.
The experiment has been underway since April 2021 in the Florida Keys. Researchers have completed the first open-air study of genetically engineered mosquitoes.
The results, according to the biotechnology firm running the experiment, are positive. But larger tests are still needed to determine whether the insects can achieve the ultimate goal.