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Oxitec Scientists Clip Wings of the Asian Tiger Mosquito
Date:7/18/2012

OXFORD, England, July 18, 2012 /PRNewswire/ --

Oxitec scientists have reported the creation of a new flightless strain of the Asian tiger mosquito, Aedes albopictus. The breakthrough, reported in the journal PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases, could help stop the spread of this dangerous and invasive pest.

The Asian tiger mosquito is a serious nuisance biter, but is also capable of transmitting dengue fever, Chikungunya, West Nile Virus and a host of other diseases. In the last few decades it has spread throughout the world and is now established in many regions, including Europe and the US, where it is becoming both an extremely bothersome pest and an increasing health concern.

Dr. Randy Gaugler, Director of the Center for Vector Biology at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, USA explains the threat; 'The Asian tiger mosquito is an extremely aggressive biter prominent in the global surge in new and emerging vector-borne diseases.  The public health threat from this mosquito, particularly with regard to transmission of dengue and chikungunya, is of concern to health professionals because there are no vaccines or chemo-prophylaxis to treat infection.  Suppressing the mosquitoes that transmit the viruses is the only available approach.  Conventional control strategies against this species have been moderately effective at best.  A new paradigm is needed.'

The Asian tiger mosquito is an extremely difficult pest to control: conventional methods rely on chemical pesticides which not only harm other insects but are increasingly ineffective as mosquitoes develop resistance.

Now, an Oxitec team led by Dr Geneviève Labbé has pioneered a new approach. The team has genetically modified the mosquitoes with a 'flightless' gene so that the females are unable to fly. Oxitec releases male mosquitoes carrying the flightless gene: male mosquitoes can't bite or spread diseases, and when Oxitec males mate with wi
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SOURCE Oxitec (www.oxitec.com)
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