Genetically Modified Mosquitoes to Battle Dengue

Malaysian scientists to release males into wild to breed
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Oct 11, 2010 2:45 PM CDT
Genetically Modified Mosquitoes to Battle Dengue
A mosquito sits on a stick April 9, 2009 in Martinez, California.   (Getty Images)

Malaysia could be the first country in Asia to use genetically modified mosquitoes to battle a rise in dengue fever, government authorities said today. The program calls for genetically engineered male mosquitoes to be released into the wild that would mate with females and produce offspring that live shorter lives, thus curbing the population. Malaysian scientists say laboratory test trials have made them optimistic.

There is no known cure or vaccine for dengue fever, spread by the Aedes aegypti mosquito. Efforts to urge Malaysians to keep neighborhoods clean and destroy stagnant sources of water—which are mosquito breeding grounds—have failed, and "innovative ways" are needed to combat dengue, the prime minister says. In Malaysia, the number of dengue-linked deaths totaled 117 between January and early October—a 65% surge from last year, according to Health Ministry statistics. (More Malaysia stories.)

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