Skip to main content
Premium Trial:

Request an Annual Quote

UC Riverside Team Wins $14.9M DARPA Grant for Genetic Mosquito Control Research

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – A University of California, Riverside-led team has received a $14.9 million grant from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to take part in the Safe Genes program, studying innovative genetic techniques to control disease-causing mosquitoes.

Principle investigator Omar Akbari, an assistant professor of entomology, will lead a project to evaluate and advance a technique called a gene drive, which enables the introduction of specific genetic elements into a wild population in order to spread desirable genes and suppress harmful species. Although gene drives have been studied for decades, the recent availability of CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing techniques has revolutionized the development of these systems, the team said.

In their study, the group hopes to answer some of the unknowns surrounding the evolving approach by investigating the potential risks and benefits of using gene drives to control mosquitoes that carry infectious diseases including Zika virus, chikungunya, dengue fever, and yellow fever.

The initial focus will be on the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which spreads Zika virus, dengue, and yellow fever virus. However, any technologies that are developed may also be later applied to other mosquito species, the team said.

The Scan

Could Mix It Up

The US Food and Drug Administration is considering a plan that would allow for the mixing-and-matching of SARS-CoV-2 vaccines and boosters, the New York Times says.

Closest to the Dog

New Scientist reports that extinct Japanese wolf appears to be the closest known wild relative of dogs.

Offer to Come Back

The Knoxville News Sentinel reports that the University of Tennessee is offering Anming Hu, a professor who was acquitted of charges that he hid ties to China, his position back.

PNAS Papers on Myeloid Differentiation MicroRNAs, Urinary Exosomes, Maize Domestication

In PNAS this week: role of microRNAs in myeloid differentiation, exosomes in urine, and more.