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Brazilians Welcome Genetically-Modified Mosquito To Help Fight Dengue Fever 137

Posted by samzenpus
from the what-could-go-wrong? dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The Brazilian government have decided to try battling the spread of dengue fever with GM mosquitoes. 'Now, with dengue endemic in three of the host cities for this summer's World Cup , Brazilian health officials are trying a radical new approach — biotechnology. They've begun a two-year trial release of Aedes aegypti mosquitoes that have been genetically modified. "We need to provide the government alternatives because the system we are using now in Brazil doesn't work," says Aldo Malavasi, president of Moscamed, the Brazilian company that's running the trial from a lab just outside of Jacobina. The new breed of Aedes aegypti has been given a lethal gene. The deadly flaw is kept in check in the lab, but the mosquitoes soon die in the wild.'"
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Brazilians Welcome Genetically-Modified Mosquito To Help Fight Dengue Fever

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  • Not the first time (Score:3, Informative)

    by Pallas Athena (2855215) on Monday April 28, 2014 @02:42AM (#46857023)
    Well, as the previous exercise [wikipedia.org] with creating and releasing a new subspecies in Brazil was such a big success, let's repeat it. What could go wrong?
  • by Guppy (12314) on Monday April 28, 2014 @03:57AM (#46857139)

    A brief primer -- this is a modern twist on the Sterile Insect Technique [wikipedia.org] that has been used since the 1950's to control the Screw-worm fly, and other insect pests [wikipedia.org].

    While the screw-worm's life-cycle was almost tailor-made to work with this technique (females only mate once in a lifetime; large numbers of insects can easily bred in the laboratory; sterilizing doses of radiation do not significantly cripple the males' ability to compete for mates; the males can self-distribute over a wide range), this technique proved to be harder to apply to mosquitoes (else we would have been doing it in the 1950's) -- while a few mosquito species could be controlled with this technique, irradiated Anopheles males suffered from too large a fitness drop to be effective.

    Genetic engineering allows us to side-step male fitness problems that occur with radiation sterilization of mosquitoes, and improves the reliability of sterilizing large batches of reliably and efficiently.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 28, 2014 @06:48AM (#46857563)

    radio lab did a story in the GM Mosquitos a few weeks ago.
    http://www.radiolab.org/story/kill-em-all/

    1) they only release males (don't bite people)
    2) larvae from these mosquitoes require an extra chemical to mature. The adult males live a "full" life fertilizing as many females as possible. The females that mate do in fact lay fertilized eggs and invest their energy in that, but do not know that the final result is failure.
    3) mosquitos have a lifespan of a few weeks, so the GM ones all die out very quickly after soaking up the available females of the current generation
    4) has been used with great effect in urban areas to eradicate the mosquito population in a less than a dozen generations.

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