Magazine Examines Efforts To Biologically Alter Bugs To Fight Human Diseases

Pacific Standard magazine examines efforts by researchers around the globe to biologically modify bugs to fight human diseases, such as dengue fever. “Biologically altering bugs isn’t entirely new; it’s been done for nearly half a century to protect crops. … It’s only recently, however, that scientists have begun experimenting with using this technology to combat human diseases,” the magazine writes, adding, “If they succeed, they could create an entirely new way of stopping not only dengue but other insect-borne scourges, such as yellow fever, West Nile virus, and malaria. And stopping these diseases has never been more urgent.”

The magazine details a number of methods being employed by researchers and writes, “What these methods all share is the promise of blanket protection: they can theoretically kill or disable mosquitoes that insecticides miss — bugs nesting in hidden pools of water, for instance, or that lay eggs in storm drains or flower pots” (Marsa, 6/7). In related news, South Africa’s Health-e News reports that “Johns Hopkins Malaria Research Institute researchers have determined the function of the series of proteins within the mosquito that transduce a signal enabling the insect to fight off infection from the parasite that causes malaria in humans” (Thom, 6/7).