Declaring War on Malaria: UC Irvine's Anthony James

Uploaded by ucirvinenews on 17.02.2009

>> Of all the blood-sucking insect pests which plague mankind, the mosquito is among the
most pernicious.
>> Mosquitos carry some of the greatest threats to human health and security: malaria parasites
being one of them and viruses being another one. And I think people around here are familar
with West Nile viruses. It's estimated somewhere between one and three million people die with
malaria infections.
>> The context of our work is that there are multiple disciplines in science that are being
used to control the transmission of these diseases. We look at chemistry and they provide
insecticides. We look at immunology and they provide vaccines. In our case, we had the
question of whether or not genetics would have anything to offer; and we thought that
using genetic technologies to essentially put genes into mosquitoes that would prevent
them from becoming infective might be a useful way of developing a tool that could control
>> Our work, my colleagues' work, started "de novo," from nothing. And so we've had
major accomplishments. We're able to make genes that interfere with parasites. We're
able to put those genes into mosquitoes in a stable way and then demonstrate that these
mosquitoes are now resistant to malaria parasites. We're now working on the complex challenge
of trying to figure out how one can get these genes into wild populations. So, the hypothesis
that we're testing is that if we can somehow build these mosquitoes that are resistant
to pathogens and get them out into the populations, we will actually see fewer people dying and
being sick. So this is our approach.
>> Well, here at the University of California, we have the largest collection of genetically
engineered or transformed mosquitoes. We have a remarkable number of people who come here
to learn the technologies. And certainly when the world has a question that they want to
have answered in terms of addressing challenges, et cetera, we get the calls, absolutely. So
this November, we're having a symposium where we're bringing in people from all over the
country and indeed from the world to come and talk about the latest in technologies
to combat malaria. The symposium will feature aspects of vaccine development, of vector
control and new methodologies based on genetics and genomics, to come up with new solutions
for malaria control. I think you'll walk away with a feeling of what the current state of
development is and the tools being developed to control malaria. You'll walk away having
an up-to-the-minute almost account of where efforts are. This major disease requires new
technologies, new ways of thinking; and the people we have coming are excellent examples
of this new type of thinking.