Dengue Current Affairs

Genetically Modified mosquito trials launched to control dengue, chikungunya and zika

Outdoor caged trials of genetically modified mosquitoes waere launched in Dawalwadi, Badnapur in Jalna district of Maharashtra to demonstrate the efficiency this technique to suppress wild female mosquito populations that transmit dengue, chikungunya and Zika.

The trials are conducted by Oxitec and uses the Release of Insects carrying Dominant Lethal genes (RIDL) technology.

Key Facts
  • Oxitec’s technology uses GM male Aedes aegypti mosquitoes that carry a dominant lethal gene. This gene is passed on to offspring after male GM mosquitoes mate with wild female mosquitoes.
  • The lethal gene in the offspring kills the larvae before they reach adulthood. Since male mosquitoes do not bite humans, the release of these GM mosquitoes will not increase the risk of dengue, chikungunya and Zika.
  • Oxitec’s mosquitoes were first released in Brazil were they have successfully reduced the local populations of mosquitoes by more than 90%, whereas insecticides only affect 30%.
  • Advantages: This strategy is considered as most eco-friendly solution so far to control the spread of infectious diseases as it only targets a specific mosquito strain and does not produce any toxic compounds. It has 99% efficiency to kill offspring.
Background

Dengue is estimated to infect 5.8 million people in India every year, costing the country over $1 billion annually. In recent times, outbreaks of Chikungunya, a mosquito borne viral disease have been increasingly reported in India. Both viral diseases are transmitted by female Aedes aegypti mosquitoes. The World Health Organization (WHO) has fully supported the genetically engineered mosquitoes during last year’s Zika outbreak.

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Indian scientists develop Herbal Medicine for Dengue

Indian scientists for first time have claimed to have developed herbal medicine against mosquito borne dengue fever using traditional Indian medicine system Ayurveda.

The herbal dengue medicine was developed using alcoholic extract of Cissampelos pariera Linn (Cipa extract) derived from velvetleaf, a species of flowering plant. The drug has proved to be potent inhibitor to all four types (strains) of dengue virus.

The project jointly undertaken by

  • Department of Biotechnology (DBT), under the Union Ministry of Science and Technology.
  • International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology.
  • Ranbaxy Research Laboratory (now owned by Sun Pharma).

Scientists are now seeking to hold clinical trials and toxicity studies of the drug after approval from Union Ministry of Ayush and Drug Controller of India (DCI) for commercial production.

Dengue: It is a mosquito-borne tropical viral disease. It poses a significant global public health risk. India represents 50 per cent of the global population estimated to be at risk of dengue. Severe dengue is potentially fatal and correlates with very high virus load that caused reduction in platelet counts and haemorrhage.

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