Though there is much scepticism over genetic modification (GM), this is one GM innovation that the world might just treat more kindly—researchers at the Johns Hopkins University have come up with a modification to the genes of the female Aedes aegypti mosquito that makes it less likely to become a vector for the dreaded dengue virus. According to the study published in PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases, the new breed creates more elements in the mosquito gut that counter the dengue virus.
While mosquitoes rely on a molecular pathway, turned on in the gut to counter the dengue virus by these elements, this is mostly not strong enough to defeat the viral strain and the pathogen gets carried to the salivary glands. But, in mosquito specimen having the modified genes, the elements that kick-off the molecular pathway to resist the virus are present in greater number and increased vigour; thus, a lesser number of the virus reaches the mosquito’s salivary glands. Tests reveal that GM mosquitoes had 78.18-83.63% fewer dengue virus in their guts. Moreover, these new variants laid fewer eggs than normal. With over 390 million cases of dengue reported each year, such a solution can help avert major public health crises in countries including India that are economically vulnerable to outbreaks of such epidemics.