Scientists have commenced a research project to eradicate dengue by infecting the female Aedes aegypti mosquito transmitting the dengue virus with the Wolbachia bacteria and by releasing sterile male mosquitoes into the environment.
The research project study, which constitutes the Doctor of Philosophy thesis of Doctoral Candidate at the Faculty of Medicine (in Ragama) of the University of Kelaniya, N.D. Asha D. Wijegunawardana, is spearheaded by Professor at the Department of Parasitology of the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Kelaniya, Prof. Wimaladharma Abeywickrema.
It is learned that while the support on the part of the government was needed for the project, it had hitherto proven difficult to explain the project and its importance to the officials of the Ministry of Health. The scientists are currently in the process of obtaining permission from the Central Environmental Authority for the conducting of semi field trials.
The Wolbachia is an intracellular bacteria living in certain insects. This bacteria is then isolated while alive. Subsequently, by using micro injectors the live bacteria is injected into the adult females. Once infected as in the case of genes in humans, the infection can be passed on from generation to generation, where the infected mother mosquito will pass the bacteria inside her onto her eggs, larvae, pupa and adults. The adults born then cannot mate with any other strain other than those infected with the said bacteria due to the enhancement of Cytoplasmic Incompatibility (CI).