A British company has approached Indian authorities seeking permission for technology trials of a certain genetically-modified mosquito claiming it will fight dengue menace. The modified male mosquito named ‘513A’ will have a gene that ensures its offspring dies before reaching adulthood and thus controls breeding of dengue spreading mosquitoes.
This genetically-modified mosquito has been tested in Brazil, where dengue emerged as a big worry during the recently concluded World Cup Football tournament, and the Cayman Islands, with encouraging results. UK-based Oxitec, an Oxford University off shoot that develops technologies for controlling insects, has approached the Indian government for necessary approvals to begin trials for GM mosquitoes here.
A company spokesperson told that the technology can be made available to public health authorities in India to help suppress the mosquitoes that spread dengue. “Oxitec is working with GBIT, a privately held Indian company that specialises in developing and commercialising novel technologies in health and agriculture, with a view to introducing this technology for dengue vector control in India,” the spokesperson said.
The company hopes to work on Malaria spreading mosquitoes using a similar method in future. Field based studies would only begin following appraisal and approval by relevant departments that work under the Ministry of Environment and Forests.
Dengue is being reported in India from around 1996, the percentage of deaths then were put at 3.3%, with number of cases reported standing at 16,517. The number of cases has been rising since 2006, though the number of deaths has been not too significant, or lowering by the year. Over 60 thousand cases were reported in 2013, with only 0.3% resulting in death. Along with Thailand and Indonesia, India has been grouped in the high risk A category for the disease.