GM mosquitoes fight dengue in Brazil


CAMPINAS (BDCi) – The British biotech firm Oxitec has found a way to alter the DNA of the Aedes aegypti mosquito and prevent it from spreading dengue fever, a potentially deadly virus.

And this year, Brazil has had more cases of dengue fever than other country.

A new factory established by Oxitec in the city of Campinas, near São Paulo, is the first in the world to begin producing genetically modified or “GM” mosquitoes specifically to target dengue.

The mosquitoes, officially named OX513A, carry a gene that causes their offspring to die before reaching sexual maturity, thus preventing any reproducing.

If enough GM male mosquitoes are released into the wild, they can reproduce on a large scale with females and eventually reduce or wipe out the dengue-transmitting population.

Though some skeptics have raised concerns about the impact this could have on the local ecosystem, one biologist at the Campinas lab says the Aedes aegypti species has only invaded Brazil in the modern era and that it originated in Africa.