Researchers are taking an innovative approach to find a cure for Dengue fever by genetically modifying male mosquitoes to produce disabled females.

WHO defines dengue as a range of symptoms including, fever, headache and muscle pain that appear 3-14 days after being bitten by an Aedes mosquito, also known as the Asian tiger mosquito, infected with dengue.

The disease has no cure and is present in over 100 nations worldwide; however poses the most serious risk in Asia as it "has become a leading cause of hospitalization and death among children". The WHO estimates, "some 2.5 billion people - two fifths of the world's population - are now at risk from dengue" and "there may be 50 million dengue infections worldwide every year".

On February 22, a joint study with researchers from Oxford University and University of California Irvine published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a peer-reviewed journal, found genetically modifying male mosquitoes can control the species by breeding "flightless" females and this "would reduce significantly human morbidity and mortality" since "present mosquito control methods are not sufficiently effective."

Luke Alphey, lead researcher at Oxford, commented, "another attractive feature of this method is that it's egalitarian - all people in the treated areas are equally protected, regardless of their wealth, power or education".

Full study in PNAS: http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2010/02/16/1000251107.abstract

UC Irvine: http://uci.edu/features/2010/02/feature_mosquito_100222.php

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