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posted by n1 on Wednesday January 20 2016, @10:53AM   Printer-friendly
from the arklay-laboratory dept.

A company that creates genetically-modified mosquitoes will open a new factory in Brazil as it expands operations:

Small-scale studies in parts of Brazil, Panama and the Cayman Islands suggest engineered sterile mosquitoes can reduce wild insect populations by more than 90% when released into the wild. Intrexon said the facility in Piraciciba, São Paulo, will be able to protect 300,000 people.

Aedes aegypti mosquitoes carry three viruses - Dengue, Zika and Chikungunya.

The studies were carried out by the only company currently trialling GM insects, Oxitec, based in Abingdon, Oxfordshire. Oxitec, which was spun out from the University of Oxford, was bought by US company Intrexon for $160m (£106m) in August last year. Oxitec CEO Hadyn Parry said: "As the principal source for the fastest growing vector-borne infection in the world in Dengue fever, as well as the increasingly challenging Zika virus, controlling the Aedes aegypti population provides the best defence against these serious diseases for which there are no cures."

Also at The Guardian.

Related: CDC issues interim travel guidance related to Zika virus for 14 Countries and Territories in Central and South America and the Caribbean

Original Submission

Related Stories

FDA Approves Field Trial of Genetically Engineered Mosquitoes 18 comments

The FDA has completed the environmental review for a proposed field trial to determine whether the release of Oxitec Ltd.'s genetically engineered (GE) mosquitoes (OX513A) will suppress the local Aedes aegypti mosquito population in the release area at Key Haven, Florida. After considering thousands of public comments, the FDA has published a final environmental assessment (EA) and finding of no significant impact (FONSI) that agrees with the EA's conclusion that the proposed field trial will not have significant impacts on the environment.

[The genetically engineered mosquitoes possess a] self-limiting gene that prevents the offspring from surviving. Male modified mosquitoes, which do not bite or spread disease, are released to mate with the pest females. Their offspring inherit the self-limiting gene and die before reaching adulthood—before they can reproduce or spread disease.

[Release of the OX513A mosquitoes in both Brazil and the Cayman Islands] strongly suppressed the target wild population—by 80–95%

Previously: Genetically-Modified Mosquito Company Expands Operations

Original Submission

El Salvador Advises Against Pregnancy until 2018 over Zika Virus Birth Defect Fears 12 comments

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently issued a travel alert for 14 nations affected by the mosquito-borne Zika virus. One of those nations, El Salvador, is recommending against pregnancy due to a risk of birth defects suspected to be caused by the virus:

The entire region has erupted with concern over the virus, and each country has taken measures to combat its spread. Other Latin American countries, such as Colombia and Ecuador, as well as Jamaica in the Caribbean, have recommended delaying pregnancies, though not for an entire two years.

The rest of Latin America has responded with different tactics, ranging from widespread fumigation efforts to directing citizens not to be bitten by the Aedes mosquito, which is known to carry yellow, chikungunya and dengue fevers.

So far, the hardest hit nation in the region has been Brazil, where more than a million cases have been confirmed, including nearly 4,000 cases of microcephaly in newborns that could be linked to Zika. Microcephaly is a rare, incurable condition in which an infant's head is abnormally small.

Brazil has announced its plans to control the Zika virus while continuing to host the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro:

Inspections of Olympic facilities will begin four months before the Games to get rid of mosquito breeding grounds. Daily sweeps will also take place during the Games. But fumigation would only be an option on a case-by-case basis because of concerns for the health of the athletes and visitors.

The Brazilian health ministry says it is also banking on the fact that the Games are taking place in the cooler, drier month of August when mosquitoes are far less evident and there are considerably fewer cases of mosquito-borne viruses.

The World Health Organization warns that Zika is likely to spread across all of the Americas.

Related: Genetically-Modified Mosquito Company Expands Operations

Original Submission

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  • (Score: 2, Insightful) by Fledermaus on Wednesday January 20 2016, @11:49AM

    by Fledermaus (1913) on Wednesday January 20 2016, @11:49AM (#292033)

    This will definitely fuck up the mosquitoe-based foodchain in the area. Trouble in the horizon for a lot of species.

    Hopefully whatever occupies the freed ecological slot doesn't cause more problems than what this move is supposed to solve. Usually humans mucking about with nature end up badly.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 20 2016, @02:13PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 20 2016, @02:13PM (#292056)

      Yeah but the problem is a lot of people were getting tired of being part of that food chain.

    • (Score: 1, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 20 2016, @05:03PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 20 2016, @05:03PM (#292136)

      There are other mosquitoes besides Aedes aegypti that do not carry disease. A non-disease carrying species should maybe be released as the A. aegypti population is decreasing.

      • (Score: 2) by bart9h on Friday January 22 2016, @12:55PM

        by bart9h (767) on Friday January 22 2016, @12:55PM (#293087)

        No need to introduce any species, there are a number of competing species around. As the Aedes aegypti population decline, the others will fill up their place.

        Besides, if our wishes became true, and all the blood sucking mosquitoes of the world disappear, it would not be an ecosystem disaster, contrary to popular belief. There are other mosquitoes and other insects that can be used as food by those species that eat the blood sucking ones. It would certainly modify the food chain a bit, but the ecology will quickly stabilize again.

  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by quadrox on Wednesday January 20 2016, @01:34PM

    by quadrox (315) on Wednesday January 20 2016, @01:34PM (#292045)

    Now if only they could make the sterile mosquitoes have sterile children, which in turn spread their sterility further, and then... oh wait... nevermind...

    • (Score: 2, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 20 2016, @04:52PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 20 2016, @04:52PM (#292132)

      There have been male mosquitoes developed that will be able to reproduce one generation that is sterile. This is useful because they will out-compete fertile males, then their progeny will be sterile and compete further with the remaining fertile males.

  • (Score: 2) by hendrikboom on Wednesday January 20 2016, @05:56PM

    by hendrikboom (1125) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday January 20 2016, @05:56PM (#292156) Homepage Journal

    Years ago I learned of the sterile-mosquito technology as a way to limit mosquito populations. But back then they irradiated the mosquitos. This is something I can imagine doing cost-effectively in a factory. But genetically modifying them? One by one because they can't reproduce? That seems like excessive effort.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 20 2016, @07:23PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 20 2016, @07:23PM (#292204)

      There are multiple options you can use to get around this: you can breed a recessive trait and produce offspring that are homozygous, you can use an inducible/repressor system where the gene is only functional at a certain temperature or in the presence/absence of some small molecule, or the removal of an entire gene is induced by some stimuli.

  • (Score: 1, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 20 2016, @08:26PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 20 2016, @08:26PM (#292224)

    Suppression of a Field Population of Aedes aegypti in Brazil by Sustained Release of Transgenic Male Mosquitoes []

    Field performance of engineered male mosquitoes []

    Pest control and resistance management through release of insects carrying a male-selecting transgene []

    Sterile-Insect Methods for Control of Mosquito-Borne Diseases: An Analysis []

    Mass Production of Genetically Modified Aedes aegypti for Field Releases in Brazil []

  • (Score: 3, Funny) by aristarchus on Thursday January 21 2016, @04:49AM

    by aristarchus (2645) on Thursday January 21 2016, @04:49AM (#292398) Journal

    Predictable! It's always about . . . . . Hey, where's Runaway? What about the Mosquito fetuses that will be destroyed by these monsters? Life is sacred! I will kill anyone who says otherwise!!!