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Friday 10 Nov 2017 01.09 PM

Lab-grown mosquitoes to combat disease-carrying mosquitoe

Lab grown mosquitoes

The Environmental Protection Agency has approved the release of lab-reared mosquitoes infected with the bacterium Wolbachia pipientis into the wilds of 20 states and Washington, DC.

Lexington-based MosquitoMate is a spinoff of the University of Kentucky. The biotech company has been working on developing sterile male mosquitoes that will serve as a nontoxic, non-GMO pesticide. The company's lab-grown Aedes albopictus (aka ZAP males) mosquitoes are designed to halt the spread of mosquito-borne diseases.

Only female mosquitoes bite and transmit disease. The fertilized eggs never hatch because the paternal chromosomes do not properly form, according to Nature. Mosquitoes infected with Wolbachia are also less likely to carry viruses.

“It’s a non-chemical way of dealing with mosquitoes, so from that perspective, you’d think it would have a lot of appeal,” says David O’Brochta, an entomologist at the University of Maryland in Rockville.“I’m glad to see it pushed forward, as I think it could be potentially really important.”

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Friday 10 Nov 2017 01.09 PM
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