Genetically Modified Mosquitoes: Dropping the Dengue Fever by 91%

The new dreadful disease, Zika Fever strikes with a little headache, little fever, little joint pain and most of the people who have had it, don’t know they have had it. Recently, just a year ago, the outbreak of Zika Virus in Brazil caused a peak of Microcephaly- Children born with a deformed i.e. small size and small brain. It was in the children of the mothers who were infected with the virus. The new England Journal of Medicine published a paper on May 29th, 2016 Entitled “Zika Virus and Birth Defects-Reviewing the Evidence for Causality”.

The Zika virus broke out from a monkey at the Zika forest in Uganda identified by the researchers of the Yellow Fever Research Institute. The first cases were ever reported was in Tanzania, Uganda and that’s how it got spread through West and East Africa then through Equatorial Asia like India, Pakistan, Malaysia and Indonesia but it was just in Mosquitoes and Monkeys. The one of the biggest outbreaks were in the French Region which had 30,000 reported cases in 2013, from there it causes various outbreaks in the islands on the south coast of America. Then, there was an outbreak in the Natal, Brazil which were thought provoked by the people that it was either the 2014 World Cup that brought it or the Canoe Championship races held that year in Brazil.

Now. Let’s leave the fuss about its transmission in Miami and talk about the treatment. You can get Vaccinated but sadly, there is no vaccine discovered till now and maybe there won’t be in the next couple of years. But, viruses like Zika and Dengue are being killed by the insecticidal sprays but they sadly, the bigger amounts of insecticides can have severe reaction and can even kill the person then the infection of the virus. ‘I am a very big fan of Biological Controls and I share that with Rachel Carson, the Author of the Silent Spring” she said. And then because of that she had interest in using the different approach for the treating the viruses like Zika and Dengue.

The Aedes Egypti, the vector for the transmission of the viruses like Zika, Dengue, West Nile, Ancient Plague and many others. It’s the female mosquito which is responsible for this bad work, male doesn’t even have the mouth parts to bite. She bites so she can get a blood to feed her off springs. A British company called OXITECH modified the mosquito in such a way that the female eggs don’t develop to adulthood.

The scientists added a gene in the genome of the mosquito which encodes a protein which feedbacks on itself so it can crack a lot of protein, making the extra copies and where ever they go, kill the organism and now to keep it running, they added tetracycline which shuts down that gene for the promotion of its normal growth. They added another gene which glows under the UV light and they can monitor where it goes? how far it goes? How much time he lives? Now, the male Friendly Aedes was released around in the city of Piracicaba, Brazil by the mayor himself. They were guided by the GPS and the most inspiring thing, just in one year, they brought down the cases of Dengue by 91 percent. Something Impressive? Right.

They are not even being released in the U.S because of the regulation for the Genetically Modified Organism. Some may even call them the “Animal Drugs” but to be fair the results were better than insecticide or any other vaccine treatment. Now, the only reason I picked this was why not in Pakistan? Maybe, no one even heard of this Friendly Aedes. Guess what? We need it more than any other country because of the reported cases of Dengue fever emerging every year or the other viral infections caused. But, the truth is maybe, even in a decade, it won’t happen or maybe it could. Who knows?