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  • News

    Rapid spread of Zika virus in the Americas raises alarm

    The latest virus to break out of the tropics may be the most frightening.

    Zika virus, which has already blazed across Brazil and pressed northward into Central America and Mexico, now is poised to jump to the United States. Infection typically causes minor or even no symptoms. But in pregnant women, it’s been linked to a birth defect called microcephaly, which leaves babies with...

    01/22/2016 - 15:08 Health, Biomedicine
  • News

    DNA editing shows success in mosquito sterilization

    A new genetic tool may help eradicate Africa’s main malaria-carrying mosquitoes.  

    A self-propagating cut-and-paste system known as a gene drive can sterilize female Anopheles gambiae mosquitoes, researchers report December 7 in Nature Biotechnology.

    This is the second gene drive aimed at eliminating malaria. The first, published November 23 in the Proceedings of the National...

    12/07/2015 - 13:01 Genetics
  • Feature

    Gene drives spread their wings

    Genies are said to have the power to grant three wishes. But genies recently released from laboratory flasks promise to fulfill nearly any wish a biologist can dream up.

    End the scourge of insect-borne diseases? Check. Inoculate endangered amphibians against killer fungi? Yes. Pluck invasive species from environments where they don’t belong? As you wish.

    These genies aren’t magical...

    12/02/2015 - 07:00 Genetics, Science & Society
  • News

    Mosquitoes engineered to zap ability to carry malaria

    A new genetic engineering technique may quickly inoculate mosquitoes against malaria, helping to end the spread of the disease in humans.

    Using a gene-editing tool known as CRISPR/Cas9, researchers have made a “genetic vaccine” that will continually inject itself into mosquitoes’ DNA. Such a vaccine, known as a gene drive, could spread to nearly every mosquito in a population within a...

    11/23/2015 - 14:47 Genetics
  • Feature

    Chikungunya is on the move

    A crippling virus has slipped its bonds in Africa and Asia and is invading whole new continents faster than people can learn to pronounce its name. In one decade, chikungunya (chihk-uhn-GUHN-yuh) fever has gone from an obscure tropical ailment to an international threat, causing more than 3 million infections worldwide. The virus has established itself in Latin America and may now have the...

    06/02/2015 - 15:49 Health, Biomedicine
  • News in Brief

    Virus-thwarting mosquitoes decline on Vietnamese island

    Disease-blocking mosquitoes that were poised to take over a Vietnamese island appear to be dying off, according to recent results.

    The mosquitoes, which scientists released from April to September, carry Wolbachia bacteria. The bacterial infection spreads among mosquitoes and prevents the insects from transmitting the dengue virus. Dengue causes painful fevers in people.

    In...

    12/13/2013 - 08:00 Microbes, Ecology, Microbiology
  • News

    Virus-blocking insects taking over Vietnamese island

    WASHINGTON — A tiny island off Vietnam may soon be the first place on Earth where people are completely shielded from dengue, a potentially lethal viral disease that causes painful fevers.

    The virus, which threatens a third of the world’s population, spreads by mosquito bites. In April, researchers released dengue-blocking mosquitoes on Tri Nguyen...

    11/19/2013 - 17:00 Ecology, Microbes, Microbiology
  • Feature

    In the Eye of the Tiger

    There is no shortage of mosquitoes in North America, and adding one more variety might seem like just a minor uptick in summertime’s itchy-scratchy. But the Asian tiger mosquito, Aedes albopictus, comes with some particularly irritating characteristics. It’s an aggressive hit-and-run biter that frequently lives in close contact with humans. It’s a daytime feeder that dines on humans, dogs,...

    06/13/2013 - 11:19 Animals
  • Feature

    Mosquitoes Remade

    It’s a bit unnerving that Scott O’Neill bursts out laughing at the basic premise behind the story you are beginning to read.

    He is dean of the science faculty at Monash University in Australia and lead scientist for research on developing bacteria-infected mosquitoes as a public health tool. The premise put forth was that scientists suddenly have...

    06/29/2012 - 11:19 Animals, Health