New Genetic Control Tools to Combat Dengue and Chikungunya
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7, March 2010
With the invention of new genetic tools, the financial burden caused by the likes of dengue and chikungunya can substantially be reduced in the country, a study released in Ahmedabad said.
As per the study carried out by Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad (IIMA), India’s estimated annual burden of dengue and chikungunya is Rs6,120 crore and dengue haemorrhagic fever is said to be the leading cause of hospitalisation and death among children in the country.
“Now three new technologies promise to reduce this burden. The latest of the three technologies involves a genetically modified strain (OX3604) of the dengue mosquito Aedes aegypti in which female mosquito progeny cannot fly,” said Dr SS Vasan, Oxford University owned Oxitec’s head of public health and who is also co–principal investigator of the WHO/TDR Asian Biosafety Network.
Dr Vasan was involved in the study conducted by IIMA and was here after attending a two week meeting of the Asian Biosafety Network set up by the World Health Organisation’s Special Programme on Tropical Diseases Research (WHO/TDR) at Madurai, which ended on March 4.
The meeting was attended by over fifty experts from 12 countries and different parts of India and was hosted by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), he added.Talking about the newly developed technologies, he said, “Researchers at Oxford University and its part–owned biotech company Oxitec Limited have made a genetic alteration in the mosquitoes that disrupts wing muscle development in female offspring, rendering them incapable of flight. Males’ ability to fly is unaffected, and they show no ill effects from carrying the gene.”
“Without the ability to fly, these female mosquitoes cannot effectively bite and spread the disease”, he added.