The tiny mosquito is a nuisance in the industrialized world, yet around the world it is a ruthless killer, spreading blood-borne diseases that bring about pain and suffering, particularly in developing nations. In many regions these are invasive species with little to no ecological role. For years scientists have used “sterile insect technique” to control them, a process that treats sexually compatible insects with radiation, rendering them infertile. The low-fertility insects are released into the wild and crash problematic populations. The Oxitec company has a genetic solution. Mosquitoes have been genetically engineered to contain a lethal gene that can be turned off in the laboratory with a simple chemical. Upon release, these mosquitoes breed against target populations, spreading the lethal gene, and leaving the next generation inviable. The process creates a reproductive dead end. While amazingly successful, these trials have suffered from a lack of public acceptance. This week an article in Scientific Reports from a credible lab introduced language that bred fear, uncertainty and doubt in the Oxitec approach. This unwarranted speculation was then amplified and exaggerated by the credulous anti-biotech media, further eroding public perception. In this episode I spoke with Dr. Kelly Matsen, Research and Development and Operations lead at Oxitech. She described the experiments in question, the actual results, the published paper, and how Oxitech’s technology actually has worked in field releases. The Oxitec Website Follow Oxitec on Twitter, @Oxitec Link to the EPA Public Comment Period on Mosquito Release # COLABRA Talking Biotech is brought to you by Colabra – an R&D platform that brings your lab’s world-changing research together in one shared space. Learn more at https://www.colabra.app/ # TALKING BIOTECH Twitter: https://twitter.com/talkingbiotech Website: https://www.colabra.app/podcasts/talking-biotech/ Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/colabrahq The Talking Biotech podcast is distinct from Dr. Kevin Folta's teaching and research roles at the University of Florida. The views expressed on the show are those of Dr. Folta and his guests, and do not reflect the opinions of the university or Colabra.
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