Health: Mosquitoes genetically modified to combat dengue

For the first time mosquitoes have been engineered to fight all 4 known types of dengue 

Published: Monday 20 January 2020

A team of researchers have engineered mosquitoes in a way that they are unable to spread the dengue virus. This team, led by the University of California, San Diego recently published its findings in the journal PLOS Pathogen.

The team achieved this identifying a broad spectrum human antibody to fight the disease. This antibody was designed to be synthetically expressed into the carrier of the disease, which is the female Aedes aegypti mosquito. The antibody is activated when the mosquito sucks in blood and hinders the replication of the disease thereby stopping the mosquito from spreading it.

“The antibody is able to hinder the replication of the virus and prevent its dissemination throughout the mosquito, which then prevents its transmission to humans. It’s a powerful approach,” said  UC San Diego Associate Professor Omar Akbari in an article on the university's website.

This is for the first time that mosquitoes have been engineered to fight all the four types of dengue known. Earlier attempts of engineering were only partly successful because it worked only against one strain of the virus.

There is no drug that has been developed to treat dengue so far. The disease affects nearly 390 million people every year, of which 500,000 patients are affected by dengue haemorrhagic fever, About 25,000 people die from dengue every year.

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