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Genetics May Turn Mosquito into Flying Vaccinator

In a research, Mosquito genetic engineering may turn the malaria transmitting mosquito into a natural ‘flying vaccinator’, in order to provide a new strategy for biological control over the disease.

“Blood-sucking arthropods including mosquitoes, sand flies and ticks transmit numerous infectious agents during blood feeding,” said Yoshida.

“This includes malaria, which kills between 1-2 million people, mostly African children, a year. The lack of an effective vaccine means control of the carrier has become a crucial objective to combating the disease,” he added.

“Following bites, protective immune responses are induced, just like a conventional vaccination but with no pain and no cost,” said Yoshida.

“What’s more continuous exposure to bites will maintain high levels of protective immunity, through natural boosting, for a life time.  So the insect shifts from being a pest to being beneficial.”

While ‘flying vaccinator’ theory may now be scientifically possible the question of ethics hangs over the application of the research. A natural and uncontrolled method of delivering vaccines, without dealing with dosage and consent, alongside public acceptance to the release of ‘vaccinating’ mosquitoes, provide barriers to this method of disease control.

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