Chinese researchers had studied and developed a modern biological technology that can potentially eradicate deadly mosquito-borne diseases using nuclear technology. Their eradication project intends to wiping out specific mosquitoes in different regions and prevent its transmission.
The study founded by researchers from the Nuclear Technology Research and Development Center of the China Atomic Energy Authority (CAEA) was commended by International Atomic Energy Agency for its innovation. CAEA was founded in partnership with the Sun Yat-sen University in 2020.
Modern biotech to eradicate mosquito-borne disease transmission
Basically, male mosquitoes are prevented to produce an offspring by removing their reproductive capacity using radiation from nuclear technologies. This way, the event of them repopulating would not be possible even when they mate with wild female mosquitoes.
The sterile mosquito technique was proven to have "strong and long-lasting effectiveness, without chemical pollution harm to other animals or drug-resistance in mosquitoes," according to the director of the center, Wu Zhongdao.
Wu believes the technique can reduce mosquito-borne disease and its transmission to people, which is considered a global problem. World Health Organization (WHO) estimates 700,000 deaths every year linked to mosquitoes.
In South Africa, severe outbreaks of malaria have killed hundred thousand of people.
The sterile mosquito technique is also built to reduce morbidity, according to Zhang Dongjing, a research fellow of the center. Zhang also went to Johannesburg in 2020 to facilitate and assist the technique to the China's national infectious diseases center.
Controlling mosquito-borne diseases in developing countries
The Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou, China also studied sterile mosquitoes in hopes to fight Zika, a virus transmitted primarily by Aedes mosquitoes. Their lab was considered the world's largest mosquito factory which prevents fertilization of eggs. The mosquitoes infected with a strain of Wolbachia pipientis, a bacterium that inhibits Zika and other viruses, were then released by the center on Shazai Island to mate with wild females and stop the next generation.
The mosquito factory claims 99% suppression rate of Aedes albopictus, or Asia tiger mosquito, the type known to carry Zika virus, after the first year of tests.
"Experts in China plan to test the technology in larger urban areas in the near future using sterile male mosquitoes from a mass-rearing facility in Guangzhou," said Zhiyong Xi, Director of Sun Yat-sen University-Michigan State University's Joint Center of Vector Control for Tropical Diseases and Professor at Michigan State University in the United States.
CAEA expects an output of 40 to 50 million sterile mosquitoes per week, which China believes to control, if not totally eradicate, the mosquito-borne diseases in developing countries. This makes a great contribution to giving solution in challenges faced by international public health care due to mosquito problems and diseases.
Using the nuclear technology, the university also plans to set up three to four anti-mosquito demonstration sites in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area and set up overseas training bases to completely suppress mosquito population.
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