What Is Transgenic Aedes aegypti

The transgenic Aedes aegypti can be an effective weapon in the fight against dengue, decreasing the amount of specimens of this mosquito.The dengue is a disease responsible for a considerable number of deaths each year in our country. In 2016 alone, 642 people died as a result of the disease, according to the Ministry of Health. Our tropical climate, with periods of rain and high temperatures, makes it a very favorable environment for the spread of the disease. Aedes aegypti , the mosquito responsible for transmitting a family Flaviviridae that causes this disease.

There are several awareness campaigns that try to reduce mosquito breeding sites and, consequently, reduce dengue transmission. In addition, the chemical control of the mosquito through the elimination of the larvae and the use of “smoke” is also widespread in the country. However, despite efforts, there is still a large number of infected people, so the search for viable solutions that reduce infection still exists.

One of the projects that intend to reduce the transmission of the disease is the production of transgenic Aedes aegypti . These mosquitoes are modified thanks to the injection of a DNA molecule that has a gene that prevents the development of their descendants and another that allows the identification of insects when subjected to certain lighting. This DNA molecule is placed in the egg phase of A. aegypti .

The transgenic males produced are released into the environment so that they can mate with the females present at the site and generate offspring who will die before reaching adulthood due to the presence of the lethal gene . As mosquitoes will not reach reproductive age, the population of Aedes will tend to decrease over time, leading to dengue control . It is important to highlight that only the female mosquito is capable of transmitting dengue and, in nature, only male individuals are released.

The use of transgenic mosquitoes is under study and has already had satisfactory results in tests carried out in Bahia by the company Moscamed Brasil in partnership with the University of São Paulo ( USP ) in a project known as the Aedes Transgenic Project (PAT). The release of mosquitoes in Juazeiro and Jacobina caused a decrease of more than 80% in the amount of Aedes in these places, showing great efficiency.

In the interior of São Paulo, a headquarters of the company Oxitec was installed in 2014, which is responsible for the production of the modified insects. However, until now, the National Health Surveillance Agency ( Anvisa ) has not allowed the sale of mosquitoes. The use of Aedes transgenic can be a great weapon in the fight against dengue and it is hoped that this new technology will considerably reduce cases and deaths due to this disease, which has become a serious public health problem.

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