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Parasitol Int. 2010 Mar;59(1):1-8. doi: 10.1016/j.parint.2009.10.002. Epub 2009 Oct 9.

Transgenesis and paratransgenesis to control insect-borne diseases: current status and future challenges.

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Biology of Disease Vectors Laboratory, Department of Entomology, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS, USA.


Insect-borne diseases cause significant human morbidity and mortality. Current control and preventive methods against vector-borne diseases rely mainly on insecticides. The emergence of insecticide resistance in many disease vectors highlights the necessity to develop new strategies to control these insects. Vector transgenesis and paratransgenesis are novel strategies that aim at reducing insect vectorial capacity, or seek to eliminate transmission of pathogens such as Plasmodium sp., Trypanosoma sp., and Dengue virus currently being developed. Vector transgenesis relies on direct genetic manipulation of disease vectors making them incapable of functioning as vectors of a given pathogen. Paratransgenesis focuses on utilizing genetically modified insect symbionts to express molecules within the vector that are deleterious to pathogens they transmit. Despite the many successes achieved in developing such techniques in the last several years, many significant barriers remain and need to be overcome prior to any of these approaches become a reality. Here, we highlight the current status of these strategies, pointing out advantages and constraints, and also explore issues that need to be resolved before the establishment of transgenesis and paratransgenesis as tools to prevent vector-borne diseases.

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