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MIP Group Leads Project to Engineer Dengue Virus-Resistant Mosquitoes
A study led by Colorado State University researcher Dr. Ken Olson shows that mosquitoes can be genetically engineered to be weapons against infectious diseases. The study, which engineered the insects to be resistant to dengue fever virus, could help protect people from the disease, the most important mosquito-borne viral disease affecting humans in recent years. Researchers triggered a naturally-occurring anti-viral pathway in the mosquitoes to reduce or prevent the mosquitoes' ability to transmit the virus. This research, supported by the National Institutes of Health, was performed in collaboration with a scientific team at the University of California-Irvine.
"The outcomes of this study offer promising results for halting the spread of this disease by disarming a mosquito's ability to contract and transmit the dengue type-2 virus, a cause of dengue fever," said Dr. Olson, a Professor in the Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Pathology. "It demonstrates that it's feasible to develop a mosquito that won't transmit the disease to people by genetically triggering their RNA interference pathway."
A vaccine for dengue virus is not available. Dengue hemorrhagic fever is the most severe form of dengue and it can be fatal if it is not properly treated. Symptoms of dengue include high fever, severe headache, backache, joint pains, nausea and vomiting, eye pain and rash. There are no specific medications for treating dengue or dengue hemorrhagic fever, but the conditions can be treated if they are recognized.