On a Tuesday morning in September, under a sweltering tropical sun on the island of Grand Cayman, 140,000 mosquitoes flit around in four large coolers in the back of a gray Toyota minivan. Behind the wheel is Renaud Lacroix, a Ph.D. in biology and medical entomology who works for the British biotechnology company Oxitec. A colleague, Isavella Evangelou, crouches behind him in a tight space next to the coolers. The minivan is idling on the side of a dirt road in West Bay, a quiet neighborhood where iguanas and roosters dart in and out of the yards of small homes painted in Caribbean pastels. The time has come for the mosquitoes to fulfill the purpose for which they were genetically engineered: a kamikaze mission to eliminate their own species.
Posts Tagged ‘Zika’
Genetically engineered, bacteria-infected and sterilized mosquitoes are among the cutting-edge weapons being tested against diseases like Zika and dengue, even as some experts say old-fashioned tools like DDT may be worth discussing.
Every weekday at 7 a.m., a van drives slowly through the southeastern Brazilian city of Piracicaba carrying a precious cargo — mosquitoes. More than 100,000 of them are dumped from plastic containers out the van’s window, and they fly off to find mates. But these are not ordinary mosquitoes. They have been genetically engineered to pass a lethal gene to their offspring, which die before they can reach adulthood. In small tests, this approach has lowered mosquito populations by 80 percent or more.