Testing Wolbachia-infected Mosquitoes to Suppress Population and Block Disease in Central and South America
Organization: Michigan State University
Location: East Lansing, Michigan, USA
Problem: Traditional vector control approaches, which rely heavily on chemical insecticides, have failed in dengue control and will be unlikely to be efficient for Zika control because the same mosquito species transmit both diseases. There is a critical need to develop novel intervention strategies to control Zika transmission.
Solution: Researchers at Michigan State University will field test a multi-pronged Wolbachia-based strategy to effectively control Zika: the release of Wolbachia-infected males to suppress the population (up to local eradication), followed by seeding of Wolbachia-infected females to establish a viral resistant population. Once the resistant population grows to a certain density, males carrying a second Wolbachia strain will be released to further suppress the population. By reducing both mosquito density and the ability of mosquitoes to transmit viruses, when fully deployed the project expects to arrest disease transmission immediately.
"The symbiotic bacterium Wolbachia can be viewed as a gift from nature for human to protect from mosquito-borne diseases because of its ability in modifying insect reproduction and reducing vector competence to human pathogens. However, we need better know and use this bacterium through both laboratory and field studies. I am strongly motivated by the dream to use Wolbachia for saving human life. With advance in technology development, it is becoming more and more close to reality than ever."
"I have long interest in developing novel vector control strategies that are economical, sustainable, environmentally friendly, and fully compatible with the current control methods. The recent success in proof-of-concept field trial using Wolbachia-based approaches motivates me to further develop this technique for Zika vector control."