UCIMI Meeting 01/24/2018
Dr. Rebeca Carballar Addresses the UCIMI Teams
Vector-borne Disease Consortium
UC San Diego has joined with the University of California, Irvine (UCI) to create the Vector-borne Disease Consortium to promote discovery and development of novel science with the ultimate goal of eradicating mosquito-transmitted diseases in India and Africa. Consortium research is highly collaborative and allows for the sharing of materials, know-how, and brings together experts from molecular biology, entomology, public health, community engagement and regulatory control. Future field trials will adhere to guidelines developed by the World Health Organization, National Academies of Sciences and other regulatory agencies in which a phased approach is used to test both safety and efficacy of mosquito strains as the Consortium’s work progresses.
Combating Vector-borne Disease
Pioneering experiments conducted at UC Irvine and UC San Diego have demonstrated that the malaria vector mosquito Anopheles stephensi can be genetically engineered using Active Genetics to express genes targeted against the malarial parasite Plasmodium falciparum, and that this new trait is inherited by nearly all of the mosquitoes’ progeny. Institute researchers and collaborators are expanding on this work with a goal of developing mosquito strains that may ultimately be used to substantially reduce malaria transmission, using a vector replacement rather than a vector-elimination strategy. In addition to combating malaria, a disease that causes an estimated 450,000 worldwide deaths per year, this approach may also be leveraged against other mosquito-borne-disease agents, including Dengue, Chikungunya and Zika virus.
The vector-borne disease collaboration programs brings together experts from molecular biology, entomology, public health, community engagement and regulation.
Several potentially impactful applications of Active Genetics are also being explored by a network of highly interactive faculty at University of California who seek to develop this platform for use in other invertebrate species, vertebrates and plants. Applications include cell engineering, control of crop pests, development of new agricultural crop strains, creation of new humanized mouse models for studying and treating diseases such as cancer and potentially restoring microbial sensitivity to antibiotics.