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A Way To Wipe Out Dengue Fever? January 23, 2008

Posted by tkcollier in Enviroment, Science & Technology.
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Engineered Mosquitoes Could Wipe Out Dengue Fever
Oxitec’s technology is a variation of a proven process called “sterile insect technique,” which scientists have already used to eliminate the screwworm and the Mediterranean fruit fly from North America. It involves irradiating male insects, causing mutations that make them sterile. When released into the wild, they mate with females who then fail to reproduce.

But the amount of radiation used in that technique kills mosquitoes. So in a twist on the sterile insect technique, Alphey discovered a way to genetically program the bugs to die unless they’re fed the common antibiotic tetracycline.

By postponing death with tetracycline, the scientists can keep the altered bugs alive long enough to breed them in large numbers. When released into the wild, they no longer receive tetracycline so the previously silenced gene springs into action. The bugs stay alive long enough to breed with wild females, but their offspring die young.


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