NewsDaily: New DNA coding to track mosquitoes, fight disease
Posted by Xeno on April 30, 2009
“DNA barcoding” — a technique that quickly obtains a unique genetic code — would be used to help identify mosquitoes that spread Elephantiasis, a disease formally known as lymphatic filariasis (LF).
It will be the first time that the genetic coding is deployed against a major world disease, backers of the plan said. DNA barcoding is inspired by the black lines on products that are scanned at supermarket checkouts.
“The problem is that there are a whole series of similar-looking mosquito species,” said James Edwards, board president of the Philadelphia-based JRS Biodiversity Foundation which is working with the University of Ghana on the project.
“This will help identify them,” he told Reuters in a telephone interview. Mosquitoes have widely differing abilities to transmit LF so identifying species can help refine use of insecticides.
“The ability to precisely identify mosquito species in this way is a promising advance in the battle against LF, an often disfiguring disease that today threatens 1 billion people across roughly 80 countries,” a statement said.
“Over 120 million people have the parasitic infection and more than 40 million have been permanently disabled or disfigured,” it said.
Elephantiasis results from a microscopic, thread-like worm spread between humans by a mosquito bite. The worm larvae can clog the lymph system and cause grotesque swellings.