Brazilian Company Creates Genetically Modified Mosquitoes to Fight Disease

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    The Costa Rica News (TCRN) – Brazil has opened the first factory producing transgenic mosquitoes in the country, a technology that, if adopted, may help fight dengue and the chikunguna virus.

    The British company, Oxitec began production at its plant in Campinas, a municipality in the Brazilian state of Sao Paulo, where millions of mosquitoes have been genetically modified to have no viable offspring, later releasing them with the aim of reducing the population of the Aedes aegypti species.

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    The use of this method was approved in Brazil by the Technical Commission on Biosafety (CTNBio) last April, but the marketing of transgenic insects still needs the approval of the National Health Surveillance Agency (ANVISA).

    The technology was developed in England in 2002 and is based on the injection of two genes in the eggs of Aedes aegypti, the mosquito that transmits dengue and chikunguna.

    The gene is used to produce a protein that prevents mosquito offspring from reaching adulthood in nature.

    According to the company, once released, crossing transgenic males with wild females will result in offspring that die before reaching adulthood, reducing the population and helping to reduce the incidence of dengue.

    Studies conducted in the state of Bahia with the release of these transgenic mosquitoes showed a reduction of more than 90% of the wild population in the areas where insects were deployed

    Factory Oxitec Brazil has an initial capacity to produce two million genetically modified mosquitoes, although the company expects to build new units in the coming months.

    According to Medfly, a social organization associated Oxitec in field trials, the technology is crucial to controlling the dengue mosquito.

    “Brazil has one of the highest incidences of dengue in the world. We are pioneers in the use of this view because we desperately need tools to control the dengue mosquito, which is growing despite all the efforts made in recent decades to control it by conventional methods,” said the president of Medfly, Jair Virginio.

    The Costa Rica News (TCRN)

    San Jose, Costa Rica

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