Scientists at Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) have decided to focus on Aedes aegypti mosquitos, which act as the number one disease vector for the dengue virus intending to end what they see as a global epidemic. Last year, the same team made engineering mosquitoes that break the chain of Zika virus transmission.
Dengue fever symptoms include a high fever, headache, vomiting, muscle, and joint pains, and a characteristic skin rash. The dengue virus is caused by mosquitoes that infect a person than move to the next one, therefore creating a chain virus transmission.
“There is a pressing global demand for effective strategies to control the mosquitoes that spread the dengue virus, as there are currently no known treatments and the vaccine that is available is only partially effective,” says CSIRO senior research scientist Dr. Prasad Paradkar.
Scientists Created the First Engineered Mosquitoes Fully Resistant to Dengue Virus
Experts at Australia’s CSIRO have genetically engineered mosquitoes that are immune to all four serotypes of the dengue virus. Paradkar and his crew have now fortunately designed the first breed of mosquitoes entirely resistant to the dengue virus.
“This is the first engineered approach that targets all four dengue types, which is crucial for effective disease suppression,” says Paradkar. “Mosquito-transmitted viruses are expected to climb over the coming years, which is why CSIRO is focussed on developing new ways to help solve this global challenge.”
Their success could have a significant impact worldwide. Think about the more than 390 million infected people around the world each year and the high economic loss of about US$40 billion a year. The hope for this technology is to combat other forms of mosquito-borne disease as well.
“This breakthrough work also has the potential to have broader impacts on controlling other mosquito-transmitted viruses,” says study co-author, Omar Akbari, associate professor at the University of California San Diego Associate. “We are already in the early stages of testing methods to simultaneously neutralize mosquitoes against dengue and a suite of other viruses such as Zika, yellow fever, and chikungunya.”