Archive for February 21st, 2008

February 21, 2008

Science fiction-y coolness

Since we moved to the new flat, I have not read a newspaper. This isn’t a huge loss (except in the mornings when coffee and toast and marmalade are being partaken of), because there’s always the internet. It seems my internet reading is incomplete though, because I knew nothing about this until a friend’s mother gave me a paper bag today made from a copy of The Telegraph from last month.

The company, Oxitec, said it can decimate mosquito populations by breeding genetically modified male mosquitoes, then releasing them to mate with wild females. Their offspring contain lethal genes that kill them young, before they can reproduce.

Oxitec’s technology is a variation of a proven process called “sterile insect technique,” which scientists have already used to eliminate the screwworm and the Mediterranean fruit fly from North America. It involves irradiating male insects, causing mutations that make them sterile. When released into the wild, they mate with females who then fail to reproduce.