Mexican scientists develop bio-insecticide to prevent dengue, zika and chikungunya outbreaks

“Mexican scientists have created a bio-insecticide against the yellow fever mosquito (Aedes aegypti), which can spread dengue fever, chikungunya, and Zika fever”, the National Polytechnic Institute (IPN) said in a press release on Monday May 6th.

The institution indicated that the serum is able to block the genes involved in the development of the mosquito, preventing it from reaching the adult stage and thus breaking the transmission cycle of the viruses.

The director of the investigation taking place at the Center for Genomic Biotechnology (CBG), Erick de Luna Santillana, pointed out that the best strategy to control these diseases would be to improve sanitation in the mosquito’s breeding places by using synthetic organic pesticides.

He claimed that the bio-insecticide created by the IPN represented a step forward in the reduction of the Aedes aegypti population at the global scale.

This could help reduce transmission rates of viruses that pose a serious threat to public health and for which there are no specific anti-viral treatments.

“We applied a mechanism called gene silencing using RNA interference to develop the biological insecticide, which will be an important tool to control mosquito vectors without harming the environment,” stated the team leader.

The first step to effectively develop the bio-insecticide was to select 10 candidate genes of the Aedes aegypti mosquito. Afterward, scientists were able to synthesize a sequence of interference ribonucleic acid (RNAi).

The team detected two genes with potential effects for the control of mosquito vectors.

“These genes are related to the synthesis of chitin, which forms the larvae’s new cuticle, and the ecdysone hormone, intervening in the change of said cuticle,” the scientist commented.

“By avoiding both processes, the insect’s development process is halted,” he stated.

Furthermore, he told that the RNA sequences of both genes had been cloned in the Escherichia coli bacteria, since said organism is capable of synthesizing double-chain RNA molecules, which allows it to silence the mosquito genes.

In other words, the Escherichia coli bacteria prevents the development of proteins involved in the synthesis of chitin and the ecdysone hormone.

Once the RNA molecules were incorporated in the bacteria, scientists controlled the larvae in a biological station where they introduced domestic water containers to asses the results of the genetic alteration.

“We also placed the bacteria in the containers. The bacteria entered the larvae through the digestive tract, causing the death of between 60 and 70 percent of all larvae, which is considered a lethal effect,” he commented.

Source: El Universal

 



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