After hundreds of genetically altered male mosquitoes were released, New Scientist claimed that the population of disease-carrying insects in a Brazilian city decreased by up to 96%.
In order to reduce the spread of diseases like dengue, malaria, and Zika that mosquitoes are known to transmit, the U.K. biotech company Oxitec has released these male mosquitoes in other parts of the globe.
The genetically altered male mosquitoes, which don’t bite people, pass a gene to their female progeny that makes them die before they can procreate and spread disease.
The most recent experiment was conducted in Indaiatuba, state of So Paulo, between May 2018 and April 2019, according to New Scientist.
In comparison to communities where no release took place, the number of mosquitoes in the areas where the modified mosquitoes were released decreased by 88% to 96% from November 2018 to April 2019, the peak breeding season.
Using mosquito traps, scientists determined that the altered gene was present in almost half of the male offspring who survived the mutated mosquitoes, according to New Scientist. The gene vanished sometime around six months later.
According to Nathan Rose, director of Oxitec’s malaria programme, “It was exactly what we expected.” “We expected the gene to go, but we knew it would last for a time.”
Testing only looked at mosquito reproduction, not if diseases were spreading less rapidly.
According to New Scientist, previous studies that excluded Oxitec revealed that the introduction of genetically modified male mosquitoes significantly decreased the number of dengue infections in Australia and Indonesia.