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Research Article

A Model Framework to Estimate Impact and Cost of Genetics-Based Sterile Insect Methods for Dengue Vector Control

  • Nina Alphey mail,

    nina.alphey@zoo.ox.ac.uk

    Affiliations: Mathematical Ecology Research Group, Department of Zoology, University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom, Oxitec, Limited, Oxford, United Kingdom

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  • Luke Alphey,

    Affiliations: Oxitec, Limited, Oxford, United Kingdom, Department of Zoology, University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom

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  • Michael B. Bonsall

    Affiliation: Mathematical Ecology Research Group, Department of Zoology, University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom

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  • Published: October 05, 2011
  • DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0025384
  • Published in PLOS ONE

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Author summary

Posted by NinaAlphey on 06 Oct 2011 at 10:53 GMT

Genetic technology has created new possibilities for reducing the harm done by insects that act as disease vectors. One strategy will use genetically sterile insects to improve on the Sterile Insect Technique, a species-specific biological control method that involves releasing large numbers of sterile insects. This Sterile Insect Technique has had some large-scale successes in agriculture. Native females that mate with released sterile males have no or fewer progeny. If enough sterile males are released for long enough, this can eliminate or suppress the local insect population. The aim of this method of genetic vector control is to suppress the vector population, with the ultimate goal of reducing or eliminating transmission of human disease.
We use a combination of mathematical models to analyze this approach for the mosquitoes that transmit dengue virus, and predict that this disease could potentially be eliminated rapidly from a human community. We conclude that the approximate cost of locally eliminating the disease by releasing engineered insects carrying a dominant lethal genetic construct would likely be lower than the estimated direct and indirect costs saved by averting dengue cases.

Competing interests declared: See the article for details of Competing Interests and Financial Disclosures declared by the authors.