Public Has Negative View Of Genetically Modified Mosquitoes

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Cinnamon S. Bloss, Ph.D. Associate Professor, Department of Psychiatry Department of Family Medicine and Public Health, Division of Health Policy University of California, San Diego

Dr. Bloss

Cinnamon S. Bloss, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Department of Psychiatry
Department of Family Medicine and Public Health
Division of Health Policy
University of California, San Diego

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: In 2016, the FDA invited public comments on a draft environmental assessment for a proposed field trial of a genetically modified (GM) mosquito designed to suppress wild-type Aedes aegypti mosquitoes. The preliminary finding from the environmental assessment indicated the trial would be unlikely to adversely affect the environment in Key Haven, Florida, the proposed trial site. We assessed public response to this trial based on the content of public comments submitted to the FDA by requesting comment transcripts through the Freedom of Information Act.

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Adding Predator Cues To Biopesticides Increases Mosquito Mortality

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Lin Op De Beeck, PhD Laboratory of Aquatic Ecology, Evolution and Conservation University of Leuven Leuven, Belgium

Lin Op De Beeck

Lin Op De Beeck, PhD student
Laboratory of Aquatic Ecology, Evolution and Conservation
University of Leuven
Leuven, Belgium

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: Mosquitoes transmit quite a few deadly diseases, including West Nile Virus. Around the world, therefore, the fight against these insects is high on the agenda. Existing strategies for mosquito control often involve the use of chemical pesticides that harm the environment. These pesticides are increasingly less effective as well, as insects can become resistant to existing products relatively quickly. Biopesticides are a possible alternative. The most commonly used biological pesticide is the Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis (Bti) bacteria. Unfortunately, mosquitoes are already developing resistance to this pesticide as well. This means we have to keep increasing the dose of Bti to kill mosquitoes, so that this biological substance, too, is beginning to harm the environment.

Therefore we set out to find a new strategy in the fight against mosquitoes. We already knew that chemical substances emitted by the backswimmer – a natural enemy of mosquito larvae in the water – trigger a stress response in mosquitoes. This stress response, in turn, suppresses the mosquito’s immune system. What makes the use of these predator cues even more interesting for mosquito control is that scientists recently found a way to produce a synthetic version of these chemical substances. We discovered that this synthetic version triggers a stress response in the mosquitoes and impairs their immune system, just like the natural predator cues. This gave us the idea to combine these synthetic predator cues with the biological pesticide Bti.

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Your Genes May Explain Mosquitoes’ Preference For Your Odor

G. Mandela Fernández-Grandon PhDNatural Resources Institute,University of Greenwich,Chatham, United KingdomMedicalResearch.com Interview with:
G. Mandela Fernández-Grandon PhD
Natural Resources Institute,
University of Greenwich,
Chatham, United Kingdom

Medical Research: What is the background for this study?

Response: People often wonder why, when they are out with their friends or family, one person seems to get ravaged by mosquitoes but others come away relatively bite free. Mosquito bites can be a nuisance to many of us but they are no trivial matter. Mosquitoes are one of the most serious threats to public health through the transmission of diseases such as malaria, dengue fever, yellow fever, chikungunya and others.

We knew that mosquitoes rely on odour to find their hosts but until now the link between our body odour and genes had only been shown using human sniffers1. In a strictly controlled laboratory environment, we were able to present the odours of individuals in identical and non-identical twin pairs to mosquitoes allowing them following the odour stream of whichever they found to be more attractive.

Medical Research: What are the main findings?

Response: Mosquitoes are equally attracted to identical twins in a pair but with non-identical twins they display a preference for one individual.

The ability of mosquitoes to distinguish non-identical twins but not identical twins suggests a genetic basis for our odour profile, a genetic difference which plays a role in whether we get bitten more or less than others.

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