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11.11.19 15:00 Age: 270 days

CNR and University in Pavia are allies in the fight against arbovirosis.


Thanks to the generous contribution of Banca del Monte di Lombardia Foundation, a project aimed at developing a new strategy can start for fighting against viral diseases transmitted by mosquitoes. The project is based on a collaboration between the Molecular Virology Laboratory of the Molecular Genetics Institute "Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza" - CNR of Pavia, directed by Dr. Giovanni Maga, and the Laboratory of Insect Evolutionary Molecular Biology by Prof. Giuliano Gasperi and Prof. Anna Malacrida at the Department of Biology and Biotechnology "L. Spallanzani" - University of Pavia,.
The tiger mosquito Ae. albopictus, of Asian origin, is now widespread in the Mediterranean basin, including Italy. This mosquito is a vector of many viral agents including Dengue, Zika, Chikungunya. Every year over one hundred cases of infections by these viruses are recorded in Italy, imported as a result of tourism and movement of people from areas where these viruses constantly circulate. On these bases the high density presence of the tiger mosquito on our territory, involves the risk of possible epidemic outbreaks, such as that of Chikungunya registered in Emilia Romagna in 2007 and in Lazio in 2017. At the moment there are no specific therapies for these infections and the the most effective strategy for preventing them remains the control of vector insect populations
Dr. Maga's laboratory has shown that by inhibiting a human cellular enzyme, used by many viruses to replicate in the cell, it is possible to block the infection of numerous viruses, including those transmitted by the tiger mosquito. Thanks to the collaboration with the Prof. Gasperi and Prof. Malacrida, it was possible to demonstrate the existence of an analogous enzyme also in Ae. albopictus. Hence the idea behind the project: to generate genetically modified mosquitoes, in which this enzyme is permanently inactivated, thus making insects unable to transmit viruses.
This is an ambitious project and it will certainly require many studies and checks, but at the same time it could offer new strategies to combat arbovirosis.

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