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Malaysia adopts GM mosquito

Staff Reporter

To tackle dengue; other countries expected to follow suit


VECTOR CONTROL:(From left to right) B.K. Tyagi, Director in-charge, CRME, and Prof. S. Worachart, Centre for Vectors and Vector-borne Diseases, Mahidol University, Bangkok, at a meeting in Madurai. —

MADURAI: Malaysia has become the first Asian country to release genetically modified male mosquitoes (GMM) at two locations in the country to control dengue. Many other countries are working towards adopting these new tools to control diseases such as malaria, according to B.K. Tyagi, Director in-charge of Centre for Research in Medical Entomology (CRME).


“In India also, laboratory-based experiments are under way at International Institute of Biotechnology and Toxicology (IIBAT) at Padappai near Chennai for the past two years under the supervision of Review Committee on Genetic Manipulation constituted by the Centre's Department of Biotechnology. After Malaysia has taken such a milestone decision, other countries will also think seriously to adopt a new tool to protect their people,” he said.

He was addressing the third and final ‘World Health Organisation (WHO) - Tropical Disease Research (TDR) Asian Bio-safety Training Course' organised here on Monday to create awareness of bio-safety/bio-security in laboratories that carry out advanced research on hazardous substances.

Genetic transformation

Organised by the Madurai-based CRME, a laboratory under Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), a total of 15 delegates and 15 trainers from various Asian countries, besides United Kingdom and Africa, are taking part in the meet which concludes on October 29.

Dr. Tyagi said that the first and second bio-safety courses held in the preceding years apprised the delegates of the latest developments in research pertaining to genetic transformation of disease vectors to help control viral diseases by reducing the ability of some vectors to transmit pathogens.

Goal of this bio-safety training course was to create a pool of regional scientists capable of assessing and managing challenges related to bio-safety and genetically modified organisms. They should be able to handle ethical, legal and social implications of implementing this technology.

Benefiting researchers

Speaking later, Jhansi Charles, Professor, Department of Micro Biology, Madurai Medical College (MMC), who was the chief guest, said that researchers and vector biologists stood to benefit and learn a lot from taking part in this training programme.

The CRME also conducted many research programmes tackling areas of contemporary interest. The MMC was collaborating with CRME, which was training its postgraduate students in molecular techniques, said Dr. Jhansi Charles.

S.S. Shanmugasundaram, Head, Department of Microbial Technology, Madurai Kamaraj University, said that public must be aware of the new technology to understand the impact of this science on the society.


Mosquito was a serious problem across the world, particularly in developing countries. Improving city hygiene was the best way, he said, adding that the open sewage systems should be covered.

S. Worachart, Centre for Vectors and Vector-Borne Diseases, Mahidol University, Bangkok, said that such training courses were important for scientists in developing countries.

Madama Bourare, Head, Department of Zoology from Mali, D.V.P. Raja, founder, Madurai Institute of Social Sciences, who is also chairman of the Ethics Committee of CRME, and N. Arunachalam, scientist, CRME, spoke.

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