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Genetically modified mosquitoes may help in controlling vector-borne diseases, scientists found promising results

Meanwhile, several experts are doubtful of this experiment and the viability of the project. They believe that reducing the population of the virus-spreading mosquito is not enough to curb a potential outbreak.

End Malaria, Malaria, Odisha Government, Naveen Patnaik, Malaria, Mosquito, WHO,
The theme, in line with World Health Organization's global theme, was ‘Harnessing innovation to reduce malaria and save lives’. The event saw dialogue around current and prospective advancements and innovative approaches to the eradication of the vector-borne disease. (File)

The preliminary results of an open-air study of genetically modified mosquitoes in the United States have raised hopes of controlling disease-carrying mosquitoes. The study conducted by a UK-based biotech firm, Oxitec, was done to reduce the population of wild Aedes aegypti mosquitoes that is a vector for viruses like chikungunya, and dengue, zika, and yellow fever. For this experiment, the scientists engineered a gene that will kill the female offspring.

The promising results of this experiment come after a decade-long fight for public acceptance and regulatory approvals. According to the scientists, further studies are required to understand whether the goal can be achieved or not. Meanwhile, the findings, yet to be published, were released during a webinar on 6 April.

The experiment began in April last year in Florida but it faced a lot of resistance from the residents of the locality. According to the scientists, the residents were concerned that these genetically modified mosquitoes may harm people or it may lead to the emergency of a deadly virus.

Reportedly, the mosquitoes had already been field-tested in Brazil, Panama, the Cayman Islands, and Malaysia, but no such study was conducted in the United States.

After the experiment, the scientists found that all female mosquitoes had inherited the lethal gene and they died before becoming adults. The researchers also found that the lethal gene remained in the wild population for two-three months before disappearing.

Meanwhile, several experts are doubtful of this experiment and the viability of the project. They believe that reducing the population of the virus-spreading mosquito is not enough to curb a potential outbreak.

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