Global health R&D at work in Tennessee
Vanderbilt University researchers are working to stop mosquitoes from spreading disease. Their method uses Wolbachia, a bacterium found in more than 60 percent of the world’s insects. In mosquitoes, it hijacks their reproduction so that mostly only offspring carrying Wolbachia survive. Remarkably, it also prevents mosquitoes from carrying viruses like dengue and Zika. The scientists identified the two genes responsible for Wolbachia’s unique powers and found they can insert the genes directly into the insects’ genetic material, increasing the rate at which it spreads. These discoveries hold great promise for controlling the spread of insect-borne diseases.