Using part of an antibody isolated at Vanderbilt University Medical Center that “broadly neutralizes” the human dengue virus, biologists at the University of California San Diego (UCSD) and colleagues have disarmed the mosquito that transmits the disabling and potentially deadly tropical infection.
Reporting in PLOS Pathogens, published by the Public Library of Science, the researchers describe the first genetically engineered approach targeting all four serotypes or strains of the dengue virus, a crucial step for stopping the spread of the disease.
“Stopping dengue virus in the mosquito before it even enters the human body by a mosquito bite may allow us to prevent infection altogether, rather than trying to treat infected humans with illness, when it may be too late to help,” said Dr. James Crowe Jr., director of the Vanderbilt Vaccine Center, who contributed to the research.
Dengue fever is a devastating viral disease transmitted by infected Aedes aegypti mosquitoes. It is poorly controlled and is spreading across the globe — 390 million infections are reported each year.
In the study, UCSD researchers and colleagues from the National Health Research Institutes in Taiwan and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization in Australia injected part of the 1C19 antibody gene into mosquito embryos.
Upon reaching adulthood, the genetically engineered mosquitoes expressed a portion of the 1C19 antibody, which rendered them incapable of being infected by or transmitting any of the strains of the dengue virus.
This approach, the researchers predicted, “can provide an effective, sustainable and comprehensive strategy for reducing the impact of arboviral mosquito-borne diseases.”Tags: Friday Letter Submission, Publish on January 31