Zika virus gets transmitted to humans from female mosquito bites.
In 2016, the World Health Organization called the Zika virus epidemic a “public health emergency of international concern” due to the virus causing birth defects for pregnant women in addition to neurological problems. Since then, researchers have wrestled with different strategies for controlling the spread of Zika virus, which gets transmitted to humans from female mosquito bites.
One approach, which was approved by the Environmental Protection Agency in May, will release millions of genetically modified mosquitoes into the Florida Keys in 2021 and 2022. These “suicide mosquitoes” are genetically-altered to produce female offspring that die before emerging into adults and therefore cannot bite humans and spread disease.
However, wiping out future generations of mosquitoes may cause environmental complications, such as potentially disrupting food chains. A new research study at the University of Missouri offers another option: genetically modifying mosquitoes to be resistant to Zika virus altogether.
Alexander Franz, an associate professor in the MU College of Veterinary Medicine, collaborated with researchers at Colorado State University by using CRISPR gene-editing technology to produce mosquitoes that are unable to replicate Zika virus and therefore cannot infect a human through biting.
“We genetically manipulated these mosquitoes by inserting an artificial gene into their genome that triggers one of the immune pathways in the midgut to recognize and destroy the RNA genome of Zika virus,” Franz said. “By developing these mosquitoes that are resistant to the virus, the disease cycle is interrupted so transmission to humans can no longer take place.”
Franz added that the genetic modification is inheritable, so future generations of the altered mosquitoes would be resistant to Zika virus as well.
“We are interested in strategies for controlling insect vectors like mosquitoes that transmit various viruses affecting human health,” Franz said. “Public health experts suggest having a toolbox with different approaches available to tackle a virus such as Zika, and unfortunately right now there are limited options. There is no vaccine for the Zika virus available and spraying insecticides has become ineffective since the mosquitoes can develop resistance, so we are simply trying to expand the toolbox and provide a solution by genetically modifying the mosquitoes to become Zika-resistant while keeping them alive at the same time.”
Franz’ research is designed to help prevent another outbreak of Zika virus disease from occurring.
“If you can ever find a way to block the transmission of a pathogen that negatively affects humans, that is good news,” Franz said. “We have shown this is a viable option for genetically modifying mosquitoes in a lab setting. There would need to be thorough discussions about regulatory compliance to see if this can be a solution out in the field down the road, and who knows when another Zika outbreak might happen in the future, which is why this research is so important.”
The Latest Updates from Bing News & Google News
Go deeper with Bing News on:
Genetically modified mosquitoes
- When and where will millions of mosquitoes be released? Here are details for Florida Keyson February 27, 2021 at 11:55 am
By April, millions of genetically modified mosquitoes could begin to be released in dozens of areas up and down the Florida Keys in an unconventional and controversial experiment to reduce or ...
- Landscape connectivity used to control deadly mosquito-borne viruses: Studyon February 26, 2021 at 8:23 pm
A recent study led researchers at Yale School of the Environment has developed a new method for tracking how the deadly yellow fever mosquito moves through the environment, a potentially critical tool ...
- Study focuses on using landscape connectivity to control deadly mosquito-borne viruseson February 26, 2021 at 3:25 pm
"This creates a challenge that can only be solved by more information on where mosquitoes live and how they get around." One cutting-edge method of control is releasing genetically-modified ...
- Study on deadly mosquito-borne viruseson February 26, 2021 at 11:18 am
A recent study led researchers at Yale School of the Environment has developed a new method for tracking how the deadly yellow fever mosquito moves through the ...
- Brazil plans to combat endemic dengue fever with GM mosquitoeson February 25, 2021 at 6:13 am
Dengue caused by the mosquito Aedes Aegypti has already struck 500.000 people in Brazil Brazil said it will breed huge numbers of genetically modified mosquitoes to help stop the spread of dengue ...
Go deeper with Google Headlines on:
Genetically modified mosquitoes
Go deeper with Bing News on:
- The U.S. Military Used B-17 “Drones” That Bombed Nazi Germanyon March 2, 2021 at 9:31 am
For a while, it seemed that Germany might just succeed. After all, it was the Germans who had created, tested, and deployed the V-1 flying bomb, the V-2 ballistic missile, the Fri ...
- The Untold: How friendship, betrayal drove this KNUST graduate to the point of suicideon March 2, 2021 at 12:05 am
He was almost arrested in a foreign land for a crime he knew nothing about but was saved because he overslept and was left behind by his colleagues.
- Thousands of Mosquitoes Swarm Together To Form Tornado In Argentina. Watch Viral Videoon February 27, 2021 at 7:22 am
Also Read - With A Smile On Face Before Suicide, Woman Records Last Message Before Jumping ... showed a dark tornado-like formation which was actually a massive swarm of mosquitoes. Also Read - ...
- ‘Big Mouth’ Creator Nick Kroll Listens to This Mandy Moore Song When He’s Depressedon February 25, 2021 at 12:26 pm
Find out what Mandy Moore song 'Big Mouth' creator and star Nick Kroll listens to when he's feeling anxious or depressed.
- Chhattisgarh: Allegations cloud alleged suicide of surrendered woman ‘Maoist’on February 25, 2021 at 12:26 am
Tribal activist Soni Sori and a group of villagers in Chhattisgarh’s Dantewada claimed that the 20-year old girl, who allegedly died by suicide on Tuesday a few days after her purported ...