New technologies of mosquito modification are bringing forward the prospect of transforming vectors of disease transmission into public health tools.
Some of these technologies rely on the genetic modification of mosquitoes; others involve their transformation through microbial endosymbionts. Either way, their use in public health interventions will require large-scale releases of laboratory-altered mosquitoes in disease-endemic contexts, which raises a suite of ethical, regulatory and political concerns.
The project Into the Wild: New Models for Community Engagement with Mosquito Releases is a collaboration between social scientists and entomologists across five institutions: the Institute for Science, Innovation and Society at the University of Oxford; the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine at King’s College London; the Ifakara Health Institute in Tanzania; the National Institute for Communicable Diseases at the University of the Witwatersrand, in South Africa; and the Pan-African Mosquito Control Association.
The project explores the conditions for sustainable, socially acceptable use of mosquito modification technologies in public health efforts. Into the Wild includes three main components: 1) historical and social-scientific research into past uses of mosquito releases for disease control; 2) a pilot program of community and stakeholder engagement in Tanzania outlining the conditions for a robust social appraisal of these technologies; and 3) development of new tools of community engagement and public participation in release-based vector control interventions.
This work is supported by the GCRF Networks in Vector Borne Disease Research, which is co-funded by the BBSRC, MRC and NERC, and is supported by ANTI-VeC (Application of Novel Transgenic technology & Inherited symbionts to Vector Control).
For more information, contact Javier Lezaun (firstname.lastname@example.org)