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Disease-free mosquito bred to disease-carrier can have all disease-free progeny

Blacksburg, Va. -- A decade ago, scientists announced the ability to introduce foreign genes into the mosquito genome. A year ago, scientists announced the successful use of an artificial gene that prevented a virus from replicating within mosquitoes. But how does one apply what can be done with a small number of mosquitoes in a lab to the tens of millions of mosquitoes that spread disease worldwide"

Researchers from Virginia Tech and the University of California Irvine have demonstrated the ability to express a foreign gene exclusively in the female mosquito germline, a necessary prerequisite to future genetic control strategies in mosquitoes where all progeny of lab and wild mosquitoes will have the gene that blocks virus replication or whatever trait has been introduced into the lab mosquitoes.

Until now, if lab-grown mosquitoes that are unable to support virus replication were to mate with wild, disease-vector mosquitoes, only half of their off-spring would have the anti-virus gene. Researchers have been working on how to skew the outcome so that all off-spring lack the ability to spread disease. However, these experiments have been hampered by the inability to express foreign genes in the mosquito germ cells.

We needed to gain access to the cells in the reproductive germline to change the way traits are inherited, said Zach Adelman, assistant professor of entomology and a member of the Vector-Borne Infectious Disease Research Group at Virginia Tech (www.vectorborne.ibphs.vt.edu).

Adelman will discuss what the research breakthrough means for the future control of diseases spread by mosquitoes in his talk, Dengue Viruses and Mosquitoes, Scourge of the Developing World: Can Genetic Control Make a Difference" to be presented Thursday morning, July 19, at the 2007 Biotechnology Education Conference at the Inn at Virginia Tech, hosted by the Fralin Biotechnology Center at
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Contact: Susan Trulove
STrulove@vt.edu
540-231-5646
Virginia Tech
17-Jul-2007


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