Making Our Worst Enemy Our Best Friend

Hadyn Parry; Engineering Sterile Mosquitoes to Irradiate Dengue Carrying Mosquito’s

Haydn Parry , stated that “the most dangerous animal, is the mosquito”, and frankly, I agree. Mosquito’s cause more than 300 million global cases of Malaria per annum, resulting in almost 1.2 million deaths. They pose as vectors that are significant in the transmission of virus’s such as Malaria, Yellow Fever and Dengue. In addition, even though its flight is limited to approximately 200 yards during its life, its capacity for laying eggs grants it the potential to spread disease over long distances.

Originally mosquito related epidemics were controlled utilising lava-sides and chemical smog. Both forms of control proved ineffective as can be shown by a global increase in moquito population.  Oxytech industries, run out of Oxford University, is a company that pioneers solutions relating to crop and pest control. Recently they have been working on project with the aim to irradiate specific disease spreading mosquitos.

This put them in flight to design a program that would be effective at

  • decreasing mosquito populations
  • being “safe to human” health
  • having no lasting impact on the environment, being species specific (so not to harm insects important in sustaining  alternate ecosystems)
  • being affordable by developing countries

Oxytech has achieved this by manipulating two features of mosquito biology

  1. Male mosquitos don’t bite. Only female mosquitos bite.
  2. Phenomenon: Male mosquitos are extremely attracted to female mosquitoes. “If there is a male mosquito that you release, and there is a female around, that male will find the female”
The male mosquito has been implanted with a gene that causes him to be sterile. By reproducing the eggs of sterile male mosquito, and releasing them into the atmosphere, there is a higher probability of a female mosquito mating with a sterile male; this reduces the population of mosquitoes over time by decreasing the chance of live offspring.
The innovation has no additional risk to human health because male mosquitoes do not bite. And if they do not mate with a female mosquito “they will die anyway”. Oxytech’s system is mosquito specific. This causes a negligible change to other various ecosystems.

This invention has been designed to suit countries that have insufficient resources. Producing sterile male mosquitos is a cheap enterprise because

  • two hundred and twenty million sterile male mosquitos can be produced in a four meter by four meter lab
  •  low freight costs : three million of these eggs can be exported in a box the size of a “coffee cup”

Oxytech’s novelty has been trialled in small villages of (~2000- 3000 People) in the Cayman Islands, Malaysia and Brazil, in which mosquito populations have decreased on average by approximately 85% within the first 4 months of trials. This accomplishment has driven  Oxytech to scale up this operation; catering to towns with populations beyond fifty thousand.

 Oxytech’s plan utilises mosquitos to destroy the plague that they cause. What can be called our worst enemy, Oxytech have made, our best friend.
References
1. 5 TED Talks about mosquitos—and how to stop their proverbial buzzing | TED Blog. 2013. 5 TED Talks about mosquitos—and how to stop their proverbial buzzing | TED Blog. [ONLINE] Available at: http://blog.ted.com/2013/01/03/5-talks-about-mosquitos-and-how-to-stop-their-buzzing/. [Accessed 24 May 2013].
2.Oxytech released The west nile infected mosquitoes – YouTube. 2013. Oxytech released The west nile infected mosquitoes – YouTube. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2mI-Qjc723M. [Accessed 24 May 2013].
3.What is dengue fever?. 2013. What is dengue fever?. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.health.qld.gov.au/dengue/info/definition.asp. [Accessed 24 May 2013].
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Killing The Big Flu

Capturing SARS Severe acute respiratory syndrome is a virus which advanced from coronavirus. Its symptoms are similar to those of flu, such as fever, myalgia and a sore throat. An efficient treatment plan remains unsolved however a vaccine has been synthesised. From its birth in Hong Kong, the virus spread throughout thirty-seven countries, killing seven hundred seventy five people and jeopardising the lives of eight thousand more.

Coronavirus is a strain of virus specific to the coronaviridae family; and subfamily corronavirinae. Its infection cycle begins through perpetual replication in the cytoplasm within a protected membrane environment. Post translation, replicase is activated to monocistronically (coding only one gene) reproduce the virus. In adults Coronavirus is a significant cause of flu related symptoms; infections pertaining to the respiratory system and gastrointestinal tract.

Signs of SARS are manifested within ten days of contraction. A fever beyond 38o centigrade after intercourse, or travel in a SARS recognised country, is cause enough for a SARS tests. A lung x-ray of a SARS candidate would illustrate a modified version pneumonia. After which, further testing for coronavirus confirms SARS . Furthermore, SARS patients tend to reflect lower levels of platelets and white blood cells, which serves as a more conclusive test for the condition.

  1. Enzyme Linked immunosorbent assay  – Testing for antibodies pertaining to the SARS virus                             Drawback: Detects SARS 21 Days after infection
  2. Immunoflorecence Assay- Testing for antibodies pertaining to SARS virus with 10 days of infection      Drawback: Detects SARS only ten days after infection however it is expensive and can only be achieved by a trained specialist
  3. Polymerase Chain Reaction: Detection of genetic material pertaining to SARS                                                           Drawback: Even though a poitive test indicates infection, a negitive does not pro e a patient doesnt have SARS

American scientist soon after the outburst of SARS, generated a vaccine which drives the immune system to combat the protein accountable for transmission of the virus. This was achieved by extrapolating the protein accountable for penetrating and contaminating healthy cells. To extract this protein, primers were utilised to replicate the DNA using a polymerase chain reaction. SARS vaccine is a safer alternative to other vaccines because it uses DNA rather than killed forms of the virus itself. This vaccine permits the body to stimulate the production of SARS antibodies in case of a future infection.

In conclusion, SARS causes of flu related symptoms such as respiratory and gastrointestinal infections. Symptoms of SARS are displayed within ten days of contraction and can be confirmed via tests for Coronavirus. There are three tests for SARS however all have unique drawbacks. A SARS vaccine has been partially introduced however further tests are compulsory for it to be valid on a global market. Research in SARS treatment enables the world to be prepared for a future outburst.

References

  1. McBride, R, & Fielding, B 2012, ‘The Role of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS)-Coronavirus Accessory Proteins in Virus Pathogenesis’, Viruses (1999-4915), 4, 11, pp. 2902-2923, Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 28 April 2013.
  2. Cameron, M, Kelvin, A, Leon, A, Cameron, C, Ran, L, Luoling, X, Yong-Kyu, C, Danesh, A, Yuan, F, Qianjun, L, Anderson, A, Couch, R, Paquette, S, Fomukong, N, Kistner, O, Lauchart, M, Rowe, T, Harrod, K, Jonsson, C, & Kelvin, D 2012, ‘Lack of Innate Interferon Responses during SARS Coronavirus Infection in a Vaccination and Reinfection Ferret Model’, Plos ONE, 7, 9, pp. 1-16, Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 28 April 2013.
  3. van den Worm, S, Eriksson, K, Zevenhoven, J, Weber, F, Züst, R, Kuri, T, Dijkman, R, Chang, G, Siddell, S, Snijder, E, Thiel, V, & Davidson, A 2012, ‘Reverse Genetics of SARS-Related Coronavirus Using Vaccinia Virus-Based Recombination’, Plos ONE, 7, 3, pp. 1-11, Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 28 April 2013.
  4. Chien-Te, T, Sbrana, E, Iwata-Yoshikawa, N, Newman, P, Garron, T, Atmar, R, Peters, C, & Couch, R 2012, ‘Immunization with SARS Coronavirus Vaccines Leads to Pulmonary Immunopathology on Challenge with the SARS Virus’, Plos ONE, 7, 4, pp. 1-13, Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 28 April 2013.
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He Likes to Build Things

Myshkin Ingawale; an Indian scientist creates a portable device that is capable of ‘on the spot’ testing for anemia without drawing blood

Anemia is an illness that constitutes low levels of red blood cells and hemoglobin in blood (1). It’s caused by, either a lack of production, or destruction of red blood cells (2). Health choices that pertain to low hemoglobin levels are malnutrition, irregular hormone activity and chronic diseases such as cancer (2). Diet is the most conventional co-cause of anemia, idiosyncratic to developing countries such as India. Despite its preventability, 70% of Indian children, aged 6-59 months, being tested positive for anemia (3).

Myshkin Ingewale  has revolutionized the way in which anemia is detected. Originally, anemia was diagnosed utilizing an instrument known as a Coulter Counter. Its cost, size and technical difficulty made it extremely exclusive;  this proved inconvenient for developing areas with large populations. Consequently, undiagnosed and untreated anemia, becomes fatal. To reiterate, anemia is a non-expensive  treatable illness;  its diagnoses is to blame for its fatal effects on poorer societies.

Myshkin Tells Us The Story of His Invention : TED Conference, Longbeach, California

On vacation, Myshkin met with a friend interning as doctor in a small village named Parol, north of Mumbai. He was told a story of a mother and child who had died during birth from an illness (known as post partum hemorrhage)  caused by anemia. Saddened by this friends story, Myshkin decided to dedicate his “love of building” towards preventing a similar occurrence…..and so, he went to work.

With help from a team of doctors and engineers, Myshkin developed an inexpensive, portable and user friendly device capable of measuring hemoglobin levels and oxygen saturation without extracting blood.  The measurement of these levels in juxtaposition to heart rate is capable of issuing a positive-negative  anemia verdict within twenty seconds.

The technology encircling the ‘ToucHBQuick’ pertains to the concept photoplethysmography; a device that is used to optically measure the volume of an entity. A clip placed on the patients finger contains three lights that emit specific wavelengths that penetrate right through the tissue. Based on the amount of light that is transmitted, scattered and absorbed, oxygen and hemoglobin levels can be measured.

The significance of the ‘ToucHBQuick’ is to reduce fatalities corresponding to anemia based illnesses. It achieves this purpose by speedily detecting anemia at a low, or no cost to the patient. It saves time because it does not require the extraction of blood, let alone a technician to process the blood in a Coulter Counter. As of now this instrument is being sold globally by Myshkins company Biosense. By 2020 Myshkin hopes that his device will cause less than 50 deaths per year, GLOBALLY.

 

References

1. Anemia Symptoms, Signs, Causes, Diagnosis, Diet, Treatment – MedicineNet. 2013. Anemia Symptoms, Signs, Causes, Diagnosis, Diet, Treatment – MedicineNet. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.medicinenet.com/anemia/article.htm. [Accessed 24 May 2013].

2. What Causes Anemia? – NHLBI, NIH. 2013. What Causes Anemia? – NHLBI, NIH. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/anemia/causes.html. [Accessed 24 May 2013].

3. Myshkin Ingawale: A blood test without bleeding | Video on TED.com. 2013. Myshkin Ingawale: A blood test without bleeding | Video on TED.com. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.ted.com/talks/myshkin_ingawale_a_blood_test_without_bleeding.html. [Accessed 24 May 2013].

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