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GMO Mosquitoes to Fight Spread of Dengue and Chikungunya January 26, 2015

Posted by tkcollier in Enviroment, In The News, Science & Technology.
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Global_DengueTransmission_ITHRiskMapThere are no vaccines or cures for dengue, known as “break-bone fever,” or chikungunya, so painful it causes contortions. While U.S. cases remain rare for now, they have been rapidly spread throughout the Caribbean and Central America. But Aedes aegypti, whose biting females spread these diseases, have evolved to resist four of the six insecticides used to kill them.

Enter Oxitec, a British biotech firm that patented a method of breeding Aedes aegypti with fragments of genes from the herpes simplex virus and E. coli bacteria as well as coral and cabbage. This synthetic DNA is commonly used in laboratory science and is thought to pose no significant risks to other animals, but it kills mosquito larvae.

Oxitec’s lab workers manually remove modified females, aiming to release only males, which don’t bite for blood like females do. The modified males then mate with wild females whose offspring die, reducing the population. Oxitec has built a breeding lab in Marathon and hopes to release its mosquitoes in a Key West neighborhood this spring

via Millions of GMO insects could be released in Florida Keys.

Mosquitoes Bite Mellow People September 3, 2009

Posted by tkcollier in Enviroment, health.
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anopheles biteIf you’re one of those people whom mosquitoes tend to favor, maybe it’s because you aren’t sufficiently stressed-out.

Insects have very keen powers of smell that direct them to their targets. But for researchers trying to figure out what attracts or repels the pests, sorting through the 300 to 400 distinct chemical odors that the human body produces has proved daunting.

Dr. Logan suggests that mosquitoes may deem hosts that emit more of these chemicals to be diseased or injured and “not a good quality blood meal.” Proteins in the blood are necessary for female mosquitoes to produce fertile eggs, and Dr. Logan says it might be evolutionarily advantageous for mosquitoes to detect and avoid such people.

via Mosquito Bites: The Real Reason Some People Are Immune – WSJ.com. (more…)

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