US-based biotechnology company Integrated DNA Technologies (IDT) has donated reagents to Eliminate Dengue Brazil to help fight the spread of Zika virus within the country.
The reagents will be used to carry out additional research on the virus more quickly and efficiently.
The Eliminate Dengue Programme is an international, non-profit research collaboration led by Monash University Australia professor Scott O’Neill.
IDT founder and chief executive officer Dr Joseph A Walder said: “IDT is committed to sponsoring innovative research that drives medical, agricultural, and environmental advances.
“We are proud to be able to support the work being done by Eliminate Dengue Brazil to reduce Zika virus transmission.
"This is an important global issue being addressed using a natural, sustainable, and safe method.”
The international team is creating a natural method able to control mosquito-transmitted diseases, such as Zika, dengue and chikungunya.
Led by Dr Luciano Moreira of research institute FIOCRUZ / Centro de Pesquisas René Rachou, the Brazil research team is applying the method in a bid to control the spread of Zika virus.
As part of the study, the researchers infect the mosquitoes with naturally occurring bacteria Wolbachia, which helps reduce the ability of the mosquitoes to transmit the virus to humans.
Wolbachia is naturally present in up to 60% of all insect species and transferred to new generations during reproduction.
Dr Moreira said: “One of the most important features of our project is how sustainable it is.
“After we release Wolbachia-infected mosquitoes into an area over the period of a few months, they increase and maintain their prevalence naturally without us having to continually release more mosquitoes.”
The Brazil project team uses IDT’s ZEN Double-Quenched Probes to monitor the persistence of viruses within the population of mosquitoes.
As revealed in recent research, dispersing Wolbachia-infected mosquitoes can result in a significant reduction of the Zika and dengue virus' transmission risk.
Image: Transmission electron micrograph of Wolbachia within an insect cell. Photo: courtesy of Scott O'Neill / PLOS.