Genetically Modified “Friendly Mosquitoes” Could be the Next Step to Fighting Infections
It’s common knowledge that mosquitoes kill more people than any other creature worldwide, and have been responsible for approximately 17% of global deaths from infectious diseases. The Aedes aegypti mosquito, for example, is the world’s primary transmitter of dengue, chikungunya, Zika, and yellow fever viruses. This is especially a problem in South America, Africa, and parts of Southern Asia. The good news is that Oxitec, a company based in the United Kingdom, recently developed what they called “Friendly Mosquitoes.” These “Friendly Mosquitoes” are non-biting, bio-engineered male Aedes aegypti mosquitoes who mate with wild females and pass on a lethal gene that stops the females offspring from reaching adulthood. This would decrease the death rate among humans caused by infectious diseases that only the female mosquitoes can spread. By getting rid of female mosquitoes, “you obviously also stop the production of any mosquitoes because you need them to be able to lay eggs,” Dr. Nathan Rose, head of malaria programmes at Oxitec,” told Euronews.
However, the important thing to realize, Dr. Rose says “is that we’re not going to have a world without mosquitoes. The invention targets one out of about three and a half thousand mosquito species.” Oxitec is also targeting Brazil, be- cause mosquitoes originally come from Central Africa, and are an invasive species that shouldn’t be in Brazil at all. Most other ways of controlling mosquitoes involve the use of chemicals, and Oxitec believes their invention is a really precise way to get rid of just these carrier mosquitoes. Their invention is on the market and it works by simply adding water to the eggs of the modified mosquitoes, which will then hatch in a few days. This marks the start of the end of deadly diseases that are directly caused by these insects.