Philanthropy vs. Mosquitoes: The Funders Giving Big Money to Fight a Tiny Insect

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Scientists have been researching genetic modification technology for the Aedes aegypti mosquito in a collective effort to stop the spread of deadly viruses. However, as researchers warn, genetically modifying or purposefully manipulating gene pools in nature is rife with complications.

That said, we aren’t talking about chickens or corn, we’re talking about mosquitos, or what Bill Gates refers to as “the deadliest animal in the world.” And in this case, we’re talking about the Aedes aegypti, the tiny insect that is responsible for infecting millions with debilitating and sometimes deadly viruses. Surely this can be viewed as a rare case when genetic modification is a positive undertaking.

Bill Gates loves all things science and tech, especially when it comes to saving lives, and the Gates Foundation has been locked in a battle with mosquitoes for years.  But there’s a different, more natural approach to halting, or at the very least, reducing the spread of diseases like malaria, Zika, and dengue, and it doesn’t involve genetically modifying anything. Instead of altering DNA, this approach involves the use of a bacteria called Wolbachia, a naturally occurring bacteria that is currently present in up to 60 percent of all insects worldwide. Mosquitos carrying Wolbachia are far less able to transmit viruses. Unfortunately, this bacteria is not present in the Aedes aegypti.

Source: Inside Philanthropy (link opens in a new window)

Health Care
infectious diseases, philanthropy, public health