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Thread: GM mosquitoes to combat dengue fever

  1. #1 GM mosquitoes to combat dengue fever 
    Forum Radioactive Isotope skeptic's Avatar
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    A very interesting article in New Scientist.

    Swarm troopers: Mutant armies waging war in the wild - life - 12 September 2011 - New Scientist

    The idea is that we can genetically modify a species such as the mosquito carrying dengue fever, so that its offspring are less likely to be successful.

    In the example in the article, a genetically modified mosquito is created that produces flightless females. A female that cannot fly, cannot mate, cannot attack humans and pass on disease, and will soon die. The males, though, will mate and cause their own offspring to be flightless if female.

    Millions of eggs of these GM mosquitoes are dropped by aerial spray, instead of harmful pesticides. They hatch and the males mate. All their female offspring become 100% unsuccessful. For the next generation, another egg spraying occurs and soon there are no disease spreading mosquitoes left.

    This is totally specific to the target species - harms nothing else in the environment, and is way better than spraying pesticides, which is the current system. Successful trials have already been carried out in the Cayman Islands and in Malaysia.

    Quote :
    "In 2009, Oxitec began a series of field trials of this strain of A. aegypti in the Cayman Islands in the Caribbean, making it the first engineered mosquito to be let loose in the wild. The trial showed that the engineered mosquitoes survive and disperse from the site of release, and compete well for mates.
    With the Oxitec mosquitoes accounting for just under 20 per cent of all males in the population, around 10 per cent of the eggs produced contained the engineered genes. "We got about half as many transgenic offspring as you would have expected had everything been equal," he says. "But this is way more than you need for success." The mosquitoes also performed well in a small trial in Malaysia, says Alphey."

    The technique, suitably modified, could work with invasive fish species, cane toads, and even the malaria mosquito. Watch this space!


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  3. #2  
    WYSIWYG Moderator marnixR's Avatar
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    word of warning here : remember that natural selection works with the ones that survive and produce viable offspring
    flightless mosquitoes are easy pickings for predators, leaving the exceptions who haven't become flightless to continue reproducing


    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." (Philip K. Dick)
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  4. #3  
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    Marnix

    That is correct, but remember that the lethal gene will be re-introduced every season.
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  5. #4 dengue fever detail 
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    Dengue fever is the most common viral disease spread to humans by mosquitoes. It can cause severe flu-like symptoms. In some cases, it leads to dengue haemorrhagic fever, which can be fatal. There is no vaccine or medication that protects against dengue fever.
    Cause
    Dengue fever is caused by any one of four types of dengue viruses.
    Risk to Travellers
    All travellers are at risk if going to a destination where dengue occurs.
    Depends on your country of destination, duration of stay, time of year, what you do when you are travelling, and where you stay during your travels.
    Higher during the daytime (two to three hours after dawn and during the early evening). Mosquitoes bite at any time during the day, especially indoors, in shady areas, or when it is overcast.
    Risk is low for travellers who stay only a few days in air-conditioned hotels with well-kept grounds and who participate in outdoor activities during non-peak biting periods.
    Risk is increased for those spending longer periods of time in endemic areas, and who stay in the home of friends and relatives. Aid or humanitarian workers also at a higher risk.
    Severity
    Most people recover from dengue fever after a few days.
    In rare cases, dengue fever may progress to dengue haemorrhagic fever which may lead to shock and death.
    Prevention
    There is no vaccine for dengue fever.
    Protect yourself from mosquito bites.
    Treatment
    There is no specific treatment for dengue fever but medical care can help with recovery.
    Symptoms

    • Most commonly take four to seven days to appear, after being bitten by an infected mosquito.
    • Usually include flu-like symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, pain behind the eyes, joint and muscle pain, and a rash.
    • It is common for some people to show no symptoms.
    • In about 1% of cases, people with dengue fever develop dengue haemorrhagic fever (DHF). Symptoms of DHF include fever, but also bleeding under the skin, severe abdominal pain and vomiting.
    • DHF can lead to shock. With proper medical care, only 1% of cases will result in death.
    Transmission

    • Dengue fever is spread to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito, particularly Aedes aegpyti and Aedes albopictus.
    • Mosquitoes carrying dengue typically bite during the daytime, particularly two to three hours after dawn and during the early evening. They breed in standing water and are often found in urban areas.
    [IMG]file:///C:/Users/lenovo/AppData/Local/Temp/msohtmlclip1/01/clip_image001.gif[/IMG]
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    DENGUE HEMORRHAGIC FEVER
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  6. #5  
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    This looks to be a much better option than trying to come up with a vaccine.

    Not so hidden bonus if it works well ..... it might work for cane toads. Yay!
    "Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen." Winston Churchill
    "nature is like a game of Jenga; you never know which brick you pull out will cause the whole stack to collapse" Lucy Cooke
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  7. #6  
    Northern Horse Whisperer Moderator scheherazade's Avatar
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    Originally posted by merijackkk1


    • Most commonly take four to seven days to appear, after being bitten by an infected mosquito.
    • Usually include flu-like symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, pain behind the eyes, joint and muscle pain, and a rash.
    • It is common for some people to show no symptoms.
    • In about 1% of cases, people with dengue fever develop dengue haemorrhagic fever (DHF). Symptoms of DHF include fever, but also bleeding under the skin, severe abdominal pain and vomiting.
    • DHF can lead to shock. With proper medical care, only 1% of cases will result in death.
    So, if I am understanding this correctly, 1% of the 1% who develop DHF die.

    What percentage of the population in total contracts DF annually?

    What other species will be impacted if we eradicate the mosquitoes that transmit dengue?

    While it is interesting that we can manipulate this population in this manner, I am less than thrilled that our solution is simply to once again exterminate a troublesome species.

    That is the desired outcome is it not, or am I missing something?
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  8. #7  
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    scheherazade

    I am not sentimental about this. There are many species we need to preserve, but there are other species I would love to wipe out. Here in NZ, I would love to destroy rabbits, rats, mice, stoats, weasels, ferrets, possums, old man's beard creeper, Argentine pampas grass, ragweed etc., etc.

    Humanity has managed to wipe out the smallpox virus (except for a small store in an American lab., and another in a Russian lab), and is close to making the polio virus extinct. Leprosy should follow, and then other pathogens.

    Of course, many religious people will say we are thwarting God's plan in doing this, but I am not religious, and I see such extinctions as a boon for humanity. The mosquito that spreads dengue fever is one we can do without.
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    Northern Horse Whisperer Moderator scheherazade's Avatar
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    I am neither sentimental or religious, skeptic. Rather, I am disappointed to belong to a species that feels it should manage everything save itself. I concede that I do not live where the dengue spreading mosquito has impact and so have no first hand experience of that particular situation.

    We seem to be a creature that thinks only of ourselves, waging war on the very system that supports us without understanding that even those things which annoy us or may be a danger serve a purpose in an integrated system. We have been systematically battling bacteria and viruses also without full appreciation that we require the services of many of these to survive at all.

    Like your forum name, I remain skeptical of much of 'the progress of man.'
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  10. #9  
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    things which annoy us or may be a danger serve a purpose in an integrated system.
    So when skeptic or I suggest that we should reverse some of the human interference in the 'integrated systems' of Australia and New Zealand by rats, rabbits, cane toads and dozens of other creatures that didn't belong where we put them, is that a problem?

    When mosquitoes extend their range by way of human built structures and waste heaps like stacked car tyres - should we do anything to combat them in their extended habitat?
    "Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen." Winston Churchill
    "nature is like a game of Jenga; you never know which brick you pull out will cause the whole stack to collapse" Lucy Cooke
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  11. #10  
    Northern Horse Whisperer Moderator scheherazade's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by adelady View Post
    things which annoy us or may be a danger serve a purpose in an integrated system.
    So when skeptic or I suggest that we should reverse some of the human interference in the 'integrated systems' of Australia and New Zealand by rats, rabbits, cane toads and dozens of other creatures that didn't belong where we put them, is that a problem?

    When mosquitoes extend their range by way of human built structures and waste heaps like stacked car tyres - should we do anything to combat them in their extended habitat?
    Introduced species are a human caused problem. It would logically follow that one might want to reverse the previous introduction, if possible.

    In the example of the mosquitoes expanding their habit by way of human structures, humans are the greater problem. First manage the humans.

    We have similar problems in Yukon. Over-hunting of caribou by commercial interests led to a controversial wolf kill to save the herd for First Nations traditional reliance.

    Expanding subdivisions into wildlife habitat in our rapidly growing city led to the need to destroy a record number of bears this year because people are careless with their garbage.

    As mentioned earlier, I am not overly sympathetic to the problems we bring upon ourselves. We are a short-sighted species in so many situations.
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  12. #11  
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    Quote Originally Posted by scheherazade View Post

    In the example of the mosquitoes expanding their habit by way of human structures, humans are the greater problem. First manage the humans.
    If you are talking over-population, then such management is well under way. Falling growth rates are well on track to become a falling global population within a lot less than 100 years.

    I am not 'unbiased' with respect to human welfare. I am biased as hell in favour of our own species. People matter.

    If a mosquito species is causing such enormous pain to so many people, then I have no qualms about aiming for its extinction. Its role in overall ecology is seriously unlikely to be such that its loss is worse than its presence.
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  13. #12  
    Northern Horse Whisperer Moderator scheherazade's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by scheherazade View Post

    In the example of the mosquitoes expanding their habit by way of human structures, humans are the greater problem. First manage the humans.
    If you are talking over-population, then such management is well under way. Falling growth rates are well on track to become a falling global population within a lot less than 100 years.
    My comment refers more to the human activities that adelady makes reference to in so far that humans contribute to mosquito breeding grounds. We have mosquitoes here too and our public radio educates people to take measures to NOT provide such habitat and to dump all standing water and clear up debris piles and underbrush on their property.

    I am not 'unbiased' with respect to human welfare. I am biased as hell in favour of our own species. People matter.
    I expect every species shares such bias.

    If a mosquito species is causing such enormous pain to so many people, then I have no qualms about aiming for its extinction. Its role in overall ecology is seriously unlikely to be such that its loss is worse than its presence.
    On a universal scale, I expect humans are equally 'expendable.' We may be a unique species in that we may be capable of evolving the technology of our own extinction.

    I tend to be rather more cynical when I am working graveyard shift, I have observed, than when I am on my 'day schedule' half of the week. Possibly a result of flipping my schedule twice a week for over three years now.
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