A biological solution for mosquito vectored disease such as Zika, Yellow Fever, Malaria and Dengue.
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Tackling the deadliest animal in the world
Perhaps surprisingly, at the top of the list of human-killing animals sits a rather humble animal: the mosquito, accountable for almost a million deaths every year. Malaria, Dengue Fever, Zika and a horde of other infections and parasites are transmitted by the mosquito and cause hundreds of millions of people to suffer terribly.
A cure for malaria or Dengue may hopefully be developed, but tackling these diseases has long-since been a matter of tackling the mosquito population. Less mosquitoes, less disease – simple math. Admittedly, the biology is much more complicated.
Reducing the mosquito population is one of the Holy Grails of global health and has been attempted using an amazingly inventive array of solutions, from fish to lasers and from pesticides to genetic engineering. Everyone seems to hate these insects and to have an inspired desire to exterminate them – some prominent biologists have even publicly called for the complete extinction of the Anopheles and Aedes species of mosquitoes. That does result into a very hungry market for mosquito-killers.
“The more sterile male mosquitoes are released, the quicker the population is reduced. “
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A solution that does not mean spraying vast stretches of nature with deadly pesticides is the release of sterile male mosquitoes into the wild. These male mosquitoes (and remember, male mosquitoes don’t bite) would mate normally with females, leaving them with no offspring. The more sterile male mosquitoes are released, the quicker the population is reduced. With more male mosquitos in the environment, these compete to mate with the female mosquitoes, resulting in a lower impregnation rate overall. But killing mosquitoes has always been preferred to sterilising them: it’s just a lot easier – just try both and see for yourself.
The traditional method of sterilizing males has always been radiation, which is indeed very effective… but tends to leave the poor mosquitoes in bad shape, making them unable to mate.
New RNA based techniques (RNA is a code-carrying molecule similar to DNA), like those developed by Israeli company Forrest Innovations, have proven effective at creating sterile male mosquitoes that are also fit enough to mate: mosquito eggs are collected from the environment, hatched, multiplied, and then treated to render the adult males sterile. These are then released into the wild by the millions.
This has already been field-tested with promising results, culminating in a contract for full-scale implementation in Brazil. The results of this first project could open the door to a multi-billion global market and major advances in the fight against mosquito-borne diseases.
How the company differentiates themselves
What our experts say
[In my opinion] they have a very good team. All of them have previous business experience in a similar sector and a technical background.
The current project is using the same RNAi technology, research and development since the 1990s, for a different solution, making the project interesting.
Ingestion of dsRNA by insects is used instead of injections, as a delivery method to silence specific genes, because the invertebrate gut is well adapted for the uptake of dsRNA.
Strong and demonstrated experience of the CEO; other members seem to have strong background too.
Good science and good plans for marketing.
Quite novel technology, provided that target genes successfully silenced and produce sterility.
The team and layout seems well structured.
It is not technically GM (genetically modified) and so in that sense has an advantage in terms of acceptance and regulatory approval.
There is a potentially large market for this type of vector control, and is likely to expand in the near future.
The final ratings
Who we are
Purpose of the project
FROM PROBLEM TO SOLUTION
Mosquitoes are the deadliest creatures on the planet. Mosquito-borne diseases such as ZIKA, Dengue, Yellow fever, Malaria and Chikungunya plague half the world’s population with severe annual consequences to human health and an enormous economic burden.
Forrest is implementing its Natural Vector Control (NVC) solution to control mosquitoes. Harnessing a naturally occurring mechanism (RNAi) Forrest produce 100% sterile Non-GM male mosquitoes that are released en-masse from airplanes to compete with the wild male population and subsequently reduce the ambient population. Forrest’s key operational process combines Modular Mobile Mosquito Units (MMMU) for mass production of NVCs and massive aerial release capabilities for deployment of efficient mosquito control.