A group of international donors recently funded a new project that aims to fight Zika virus with $18 million. The project attempts to provide a “revolutionary approach” against mosquito-borne diseases, by infecting mosquitoes with a bug called Wolbachia which reduces their ability to spread viruses to people.
Wolbachia is a natural bacterium that infects most insects and does not harm human beings. Traditionally, it does not infect the Aedes aegypti mosquito, the host of Zika and other viruses, but scientists have found ways to inject the bug into these mosquitoes. The approach is likely to work in two days, by boosting the immune system of host mosquitoes so that they don’t carry viruses, and also by competing against viruses in resources within the host.
The program will unfold in early 2017. Preliminary studies have shown efficacy of the approach. Communities have expressed concerns about unintended consequences. Researchers point out that humans have been in contact with the bacteria and have not been harmed, and promise to monitor closely with the process.
To read more about this project, please visit http://www.bbc.com/news/health-37773274