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Grand Challenges is a family of initiatives fostering innovation to solve key global health and development problems. Each initiative is an experiment in the use of challenges to focus innovation on making an impact. Individual challenges address some of the same problems, but from differing perspectives.


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Challenges: Biological Vector Control
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Developing Novel Transgenic Strategies for Introducing Dengue Virus Refractivity in Mosquito Cells and Tissues

Malcolm Fraser, University of Notre Dame (Notre Dame, Indiana, United States)
Jul 1, 2005

Dr. Fraser's team is working to develop and test new approaches to suppressing the replication of dengue virus in the cells of its primary vector, Aedes aegypti mosquitoes. The team is using genetic strategies to introduce a molecular mechanism that uses the dengue virus' own genetic make-up to initiate a process that results in the death of infected cells in the mosquitoes, limiting their ability to transmit disease. In addition, investigators are working on tools to enhance the application of this and other genetic strategies in mosquitoes.

Genetic Strategies for Control of Dengue Virus Transmission

Anthony James, University of California, Irvine (Irvine, California, United States)
Jul 1, 2005

Approaches to controlling disease-carrying insects might include inhibiting the development of virus in the mosquito or altering the insects' lifespan so that they die before they can transmit disease. A major challenge to this approach, however, is ensuring that such strategies are effective, safe, and socially and environmentally acceptable. Dr. James is leading an international team of scientists that is seeking to develop methods of controlling the transmission of dengue viruses using genetic techniques, including those that may block virus transmission by mosquitoes and reduce or eliminate populations of mosquitoes that transmit the virus.

Homing Endonuclease Genes: New Tools for Mosquito Population Engineering and Control

Austin Burt, Imperial College London (London, United Kingdom)
Jul 1, 2005

The inability to ensure that newly introduced genes will become established within regional mosquito populations has been a major roadblock to the advancement of genetic strategies for vector control. Dr. Burt and his colleagues are investigating homing endonuclease genes (HEGs), so-called "parasitic" genes that can spread rapidly through mosquito populations even if they harm the host insect. This gives HEGs the potential to move newly introduced traits, such as sterility or inability to transmit disease, through a population quickly. The project's ultimate goal is to develop HEGs as a flexible, robust, powerful, and safe system to drive useful traits through populations of mosquitoes that transmit malaria. Burt (Grand Challenges in Global Health: 2005-2015 retrospective)

Modifying Mosquito Population Age Structure to Eliminate Dengue Transmission

Scott Leslie O'Neill, University of Queensland (Brisbane, Queensland, Australia)
Jul 1, 2005

Scientists have long known that only relatively old mosquitoes can transmit the agents that cause certain diseases, including dengue fever and malaria. Dr. O'Neill and his multinational team are working on a plan to shorten the lifespan of mosquitoes that transmit the dengue virus, which infects up to 100 million people each year. They are introducing into populations of Aedes mosquitoes, strains of a naturally occurring bacterial symbiont, Wolbachia, that kill infected insects before they are old enough to transmit disease. Wolbachia are inherited though the eggs of the mosquitoes and so are passed on from generation to generation. O'Neill (Grand Challenges in Global Health: 2005-2015 retrospective)

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The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is part of the Grand Challenges partnership network. Visit www.grandchallenges.org to view the map of awarded grants across this network and grant opportunities from partners.