Monthly Archives: January 2015

Coursework complete :)

After hours of research and writing I’ve finally completed my biology coursework. It’s been extremely interesting looking so deeply into one particular solution for the problem of the fastest growing mosquito borne disease, dengue fever.

Towards the end of the paper I had to mention 2 other solutions that are being developed, as alternative solutions to the problem. I was amazed to find that there have been massive developments into a vaccine for the fever, though it is a complex concept as it must be tetravalent because there are 4 different serotypes (variations of the virus) of dengue fever. However, so far the results seem promising with tests on animals proving neutralising antibody responses when 2 doses are given 4 to 6 weeks apart. The Eliminate Dengue research program was another potential solution I found. It involves transferring Wolbachia, bacteria which naturally occurs in nearly 60% of insect species, into Aedes aegypti mosquitoes. This technique has been successful in trials and effectively reduces the mosquitoes ability to transmit dengue fever.

These other methods are definitely still worth considering aside genetic engineering, especially the Eliminate Dengue program which can run parallel to other solutions such as insecticide use and a vaccine when it has been fully developed. For more information on this potential vaccine go to: http://www.globalvaccines.org/content/dengue+fever+vaccine+program/19615, and information on the ED program can be found via: http://www.eliminatedengue.com/our-research.

How the ED program works; using Wolbachia bacteria
How the ED program works; using Wolbachia bacteria

 

GM mosquitoes are working!

I’ve found a really good article on Dengue fever in the ‘Biological Sciences Review’ Magazine, and it mentioned a recent trial with using GM mosquitoes in a field trial on Cayman Island. As you can see from the graph I’ve attached, the treated site shows a significant decrease in ovitrap index after July (when the males and females had mated.) By  October the number of mosquitoes in the treated site had decreased by 20%, compared to the control zone. This reveals the potential of success for this solution to dengue fever.

Evidence from the Cayman Island trial that GM mosquitoes are working
Evidence from the Cayman Island trial that GM mosquitoes are working

I researched the trial further and found a whole document that can be found via http://www.oxitec.com/wpcms/wp-content/uploads/Harris-et-al-NBT-no-page-numbers2.pdf. The article covers how reliable the data is, with all the factors that could have caused invalid results covered; it even explains how these were overcome. For example, the site of the trial was researched thoroughly before the experiment was carried out and they eventually chose the largest of the Cayman Islands, a British Overseas Territory in the Caribbean to undergo the trial.

This document will certainly be useful in my biology coursework as I need to include how accurate the results of the solution to my problem are.

If you want more information on the Grand Cayman field trial there is a video on youtube 🙂

A potential cure for dengue fever

I’ve just started my Biology coursework and I’m looking forward to finding out more about my topic. I’ve chosen the problem of dengue fever, the fastest growing mosquito-borne disease. The human population at risk from dengue fever has increased to over 2.5 million and it is spread by only female mosquitoes, mainly one species called Aedes aegypti. The fever results in headaches, tiredness and muscle and joint ache, however a more severe form can develop called dengue haemorrhagic fever. Currently there is no cure for the fever, however, I found an article in a magazine about scientists at Oxford University, who are genetically modifying male mosquitoes to combat the infected female mosquitoes. This is just one of the amazing things that can be achieved with genetic engineering, and I’ll keep you up-to-date with the research I use for my project, especially the trials that are being carried out to see if it is a potential cure. Developments being in the modern age are truly exceptional!

The female of the species is the key vector in the transfer of dengue fever
The female of the species is the key vector in the transfer of dengue fever

40% of the world’s population is now at risk