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Last Updated: Tuesday, 15 May 2007, 19:47 GMT 20:47 UK
Mosquitos modified to stop fever
Bred mosquitos
A team from Oxford University are also developing a Malaria vaccine
Scientists in Oxfordshire are hoping to prevent millions of people around the world contracting diseases like dengue fever and malaria.

Researchers at a company in Didcot are genetically modifying mosquitos to stop them reproducing.

They are injecting their eggs with a DNA solution to make them sterile.

If successful, they plan to release large numbers of sterile males into the wild to stop the biting females from reproducing and spreading diseases.

Researcher Dr Luke Alphey said: "If you can release enough of these sterile insects over a long enough period, which might be a year or something like that, then the target population would decline."

Massive killer

Only one or two species of mosquito actually transmit diseases like dengue fever and malaria, he said.

"If you can control those particular mosquitos then you can break the transmission of dengue."

In African countries such as Gambia, hundreds of thousands of people contract malaria each year.

The researchers in Didcot plan to test the sterilised dengue-spreading mosquitos in Mexico in a few years time.

If they are successful, they will begin work on sterilising the breed that spreads malaria as well.

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