Wolbachia bacteria could be answer to malaria, dengue: Gates

Washington: A bacteria called Wolbachia could be the answer to dreaded mosquito-borne diseases like malaria and dengue, Microsoft founder and philanthropist Bill Gates has said.

“There are a couple of ideas for changing the mosquito that we’ve been funding in order to work on dengue and malaria,” Gates said.

“One idea is that you actually put a bacteria called, ‘Wolbachia’ into the mosquito, and then it doesn’t carry the parasite hardly at all. So, we’ve done field trials on that. And it appears that also does work for dengue. It appears it also works for Zika,” he said.

“So, that may get rolled out more quickly and even more powerful tool that spreads faster but more controversial is to take our new gene-editing technology that people call crisper, and have male and female mosquitoes pass along either something that prevents them from carrying the virus or something that kills the progeny,” he said.

“Those are both approaches, but use geniality and then create a thing called gene drive which means that all of your children, both male and female inherit something even if only one of your parents have it. That it’s dominant into that generation, either to not survive or not carry the bad virus,” he added.

Gates said every year more than 60,000 kids die of malaria which are mosquito-caused death, that is the animal that generates the most mortality.