Brazil to unleash GM-mosquito swarms to fight dengue

July 23, 2014

Sue Branford – New Scientist, 7/23/2014

Time to unleash the mozzies? Genetically modified mosquitoes will be raised on a commercial scale for the first time, in a bid to stem outbreaks of dengue fever in Brazil. But it is unclear how well it will work.

Next week biotech company Oxitec of Abingdon, UK, will open a factory in Campinas, Brazil, to raise millions of modified mosquitoes. Once released, they will mate with wild females, whose offspring then die before adulthood. That should cut the number of dengue-carrying Aedes aegypti mosquitoes. In April, Brazil’s National Technical Commission for Biosecurity (CTNBio) approved their commercial use.

The mosquitoes could be an important step forward in controlling dengue, which affects more than 50 million people every year, with a 30-fold increase in the last 50 years. There is no vaccine or preventive drug, so all anyone can do is to spray insecticide on a large scale in a bid to kill dengue-carrying mosquitoes.

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Self-Destructing Mosquitoes to Help Brazil Fight Deadly Dengue

July 1, 2014

Makiko Kitamura and Natasha Khan – Bloomberg, 7/1/2014

When he announced he was going to Brazil for the World Cup, Andy Quinn was warned by friends and a travel agent to lather on mosquito repellent to avoid potentially fatal dengue fever.

Some of the mosquitoes he saw “were like aliens — I’ve never seen them that big before,” said the 32-year-old Londoner, who attended three games in Brazil before his England team was sent packing. Brazil’s stepped up spraying of insecticides didn’t seem to help matters.

The country may soon have a more powerful weapon to use before it hosts the 2016 Summer Olympics: genetically modified mosquitoes that self-destruct before doing any damage.

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Preparing for a dengue fever vaccine: why Brazil’s ahead of the game

January 27, 2014

Ciro de Quadros – The Guardian, 1/27/2014

Dengue fever is now endemic in more that 125 countries. Six vaccines are currently in clinical development and policymakers and global health leaders need to be ready for when they come on the market.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has called dengue fever the fastest spreading vector-borne viral disease with “epidemic potential” and “staggering” consequences. In the past 50 years, the number of reported cases has increased 30-fold. While the WHO estimates that 50-100m dengue infections occur each year, a new Nature study calculated that nearly 400m infections occurred in 2010 – four times as many as the official estimates.

Transmitted by mosquitoes, dengue is a painful illness that causes severe headache, muscle and joint pain, vomiting and skin rash. In some cases, it can lead to circulatory failure, shock, coma and death. But dengue’s impact goes beyond health. Recent studies on the impact of dengue put the economic cost at approximately $2.1bn per year in the Americas and more than $950m per year in Southeast Asia. Despite these high figures, the true economic impact could be much worse when accounting for under-reported and misdiagnosed infections.

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Brazil dengue cases almost triple as new strain spreads

February 26, 2013

BBC, 02/26/2013

Health authorities in Brazil say there has been a steep rise in the confirmed cases of dengue fever this year.

More than 200,000 people were infected in the first seven weeks of 2013 compared to 70,000 in the same period last year, official figures suggest.

The southern state of Mato Grosso do Sul has been hardest hit.

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Dengue, where is thy sting?

November 2, 2012

Vincent Bevins – Los Angeles Times, 11/01/2012

Under normal circumstances, Cicera Maria da Silva would be less than excited about a researcher intentionally releasing thousands of mosquitoes just outside her husband’s corner grocery store.

Mosquitoes here are not just a ubiquitous annoyance; they spread deadly diseases, including dengue fever, which struck Da Silva’s mother a year ago.

But that’s why she’s OK with the truck that passes through this poor corner of Brazil a few times a week and pours so many of the winged creatures into the hot streets. These genetically engineered members of the species Aedes aegyptihave been created in a lab, and are aimed at wiping out their brethren.

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Brazil to Breed Genetically Modified Mosquitoes to Fight Dengue

July 9, 2012

EFE/Fox News Latino, 07/08/2012

Brasilia –  The goal sounds easier than it is: Breed genetically modified mosquitoes that would actually cut down mosquito populations.

Brazilian authorities inaugurated Saturday a breeder for a genetically modified type of aedes aegypti mosquito in hopes of finding a more effective way to combat dengue, of which 431,194 cases have been registered this year nationwide.

The so-called “mosquito factory” was built at a cost of 1.7 million reais ($850,000) and financed by the government of Bahia state with the help of the Health Ministry.

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Brazil tests GM mosquitoes to fight Dengue

April 12, 2012

Helen Mendes – SciDev.net/Nature, 04/11/2012

Engineered males might mean fewer female Aedes aegypti mosquitoes to spread Dengue fever.
James Gathany/CDC

Scientists in Brazil say an experiment to reduce populations of the dengue-carrying Aedes aegypti mosquito, by releasing millions of genetically modified (GM) insects into the wild, is working.

More than ten million modified male mosquitoes were released in the city of Juazeiro, a city of 288,000 people, over a period of time starting a year ago.

The results were released at a workshop in Rio last week (28–29 March), where the project’s co-ordinator, Aldo Malavasi, said they were “very positive”.

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