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The U.S Has Launched Genetically Modified Mosquitoes To Combat Dengue And Zika Virus

US launching gene injected mosquitos to fight dengue and other diseases.

The new genetically modified mosquitos will aid in killing the disease-carrying species of mosquitos.

In a new technique to fight back the disease-carrying mosquitos like dengue, the U.S is working on genetically engineered mosquitos that would kill the harmful counterparts.

Oxitec is the biotechnology company introducing the U.S with the new species of mosquitos, the idea of which seems a little controversial to start with, given the current pandemic situation and how it all started after a man allegedly ‘had a bat to eat’. However, the concern just stands as an assumption.

Looking at the brighter side, the newfound technique would effectively reduce the population of disease-carrying mosquitos and for that, mosquito larvae are planted in the Florida Keys which are expected to hatch as tens of thousands of genetically modified mosquitos left to wander around in the wilds, in search of the harmful mosquito species.

It is a government permitted project to look into the successful use of genetic engineering to get rid of mosquito-related diseases and fatalities. The project is aimed against a species of mosquito called Aedes Aegypti, which is responsible for spreading Zika, Dengue, Chikungunya, yellow fever, and other related diseases that are growing at a substantial rate in Florida and other places.

“As we are seeing the development of resistance to some of our current control methods, we are in need of new tools to combat this mosquito,” said Andrea Leal, executive director of the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District. “And given the unique ecosystem we live in, those tools need to be safe, environmentally friendly, and targeted.”

What would the genetically modified mosquito do to kill the harmful ones? I was thinking the same until I did not know. The modified male members would pass on a gene that would cause the female counterparts a dying need of tetracycline, without which they won’t survive. The female mosquito would die after staying ill for a period of time. In contrast, the male members injected with the gene would continue to seek female members that would ultimately decrease the mosquito population at large. The trend of female mosquitos being injected by the male counterparts with the gene would continue for good, killing the female population and decreasing the overall reproduction of the insect.

The Aegypti mosquito population has grown to affect the wider population of the earth, and a remedy that promises to decrease and limit their population through targeting the female mosquito population sounds like something substantial. It would fight the relevant diseases and the disease-carrying mosquitos effectively.

Omar Akbari, a known man from the field of genetic modifications said, “Oxitec has received approvals to do releases of its modified A. aegypti mosquitoes in the Cayman Islands and Panama. It is doing trials in India—genetically modified mosquitoes are released into cages with wild-type mosquitoes to mate and then compared with cages without the modified insect. [Others have] done releases in Malaysia and Australia. And as there are more examples of success stories, I think more countries will be willing to adopt this technology, assuming that the costs make sense.”

Another reason that accounts for the growing population of Aegypti Mosquito to become more of serious concern is global warming, which is responsible for increasing the places of choice for these mosquitos to settle to, and spread harmful diseases. However, the newfound genetic modification sounds like a solution above all other methods that have been used up until now and might prove as a final solution to the problem.