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New research offers hope for global disease control

A team of scientists at a British university have discovered new DNA sequencing in mosquitoes which causes resistance to some insecticides.

The team, led by Dr Andrew Jones from Oxford Brookes University and Dr Sebastien Marcombe from the Institut Pasteur in Laos, has been looking at the DNA sequencing of mosquitoes in Laos, where Malaria, dengue, chikungunya and the Zika virus are all prevalent. Their research found that the mosquitoes carrying these diseases lack a protein mutation which causes resistance to a group of insecticides called cylodienes.

According to the World Mosquito Program, mosquito-borne diseases affect around 700 million people every year. World Health Organisation figures still show Malaria and dengue to be the deadliest of the four diseases, with an estimated 228 million cases of Malaria around the world every year, resulting in more than 400,000 deaths, and 390 million cases of dengue, resulting in 25,000 deaths annually.

Although not as deadly as the other two diseases, there have been increased outbreaks of chikungunya and Zika viruses in recent years. The Zika virus was also dormant for six decades, according to the World Mosquito Program, until a global outbreak in 2015 resulted in half a million cases worldwide.

Dr Andrew Jones, Oxford Brookes University, said:

Our work shows this mutation is not found normally and, when it is present, is likely to exist because of the use of insecticides and some banned chemicals.

Our research further recommends that insecticides acting on the GABA receptor are an appropriate alternative, as we have shown that resistance to these insecticides is very low in Laos.

Dr Jones added that the DNA mutation in mosquitoes was likely to be down to be down to the use of banned chemicals in some insecticides.


Photo by Oxford Brookes University

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