The work is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation "Grand Challenges in Global Health" (GCGH) initiative.
The UQ research grant is a share of a $567 million (AUD) worldwide scheme, which seeks to identify critical scientific challenges in global health and fund increased research on diseases that cause millions of deaths in the developing world.
Professor Scott O'Neill, Head of the School of Integrative Biology in the Faculty of Biological and Chemical Sciences at UQ, will lead an international team of scientists who hope to shorten the lifespan of mosquitoes that carry the deadly dengue virus.
"This project, if successful, has the potential to dramatically improve the lives of people living in dengue affected regions of Australia and the rest of the world," Professor O'Neill said.
"We have discovered a type of naturally-occurring bacteria called Wolbachia that passes from one generation of mosquito to the next and can halve the adult mosquito lifespan. This project will seek to introduce the bacteria to mosquitoes so that they do not live long enough to transmit the dengue virus."
Professor O'Neill said the UQ research team and collaborating international partners were "excited" by the opportunities that existed as a result of the GCGH grant.
"This biological control strategy has the potential to eliminate dengue virus transmission from large regional areas," he said.
"At the moment, there is no vaccine available and no effective drug to treat dengue cases. The primary method of control is insecticide-based programs that target mosquito populations and are expensive to maintain. This project will provide a large area-wide control strategy that is cost-effective, self-perpetuating and will not require
Contact: Tiffany Lippett