In the battle to eradicate mosquitos and the deadly diseases they can carry, introducing sterile non-biting male mosquitos to an infested area has shown great progress, with companies as mighty as Google parent Alphabet jumping into the fray.
When it comes to hastening the mosquito-pocalypse in areas overrun by the insects, there are two sides to the equation.
One is the delivery system – that’s the job Israeli startup Senecio has taken on with its slow-release cartridges.
The other is actually sterilizing the male mosquitos. That’s where another Israeli firm, Forrest Innovations, comes in. The company creates sterile mosquitos using “RNA interference,” a natural cellular process that turns down, or silences, the activity of specific genes – including those controlling fertility.
Forrest says its Natural Vector Control technology “enables us to achieve male sterility without compromising the fitness of the mosquito.”
Now Forrest and Senecio are teaming up to release Forrest-sterilized mosquitos using Senecio’s air distribution technology in a first-ever project in Brazil.
In the first phase of the project, launched September 28, Forrest released male mosquitos manually. However, Senecio CEO Hanan Lepek tells ISRAEL21c that the two companies have signed an agreement so that Forrest may use Senecio’s systems in Brazil in future commercial projects.
Forrest set up a Mobile Modular Mosquito Mass Production Unit in the Brazilian city of Jacarezinho last year. The project is being run in collaboration of TEPCAR, the technological institute of Parana State, where Jacarezinho is located, and has support from the local municipality, the Sanitary Vigilance Services, the Brazilian Environmental Protection Agency and the Secretary of Health.
Natural Vector Control “has the potential to save human life, reduce human suffering and bring tremendous economic benefit,” said Forrest CEO Nitzan Paldi. “We are proud to have such strong partners in Brazil who share our vision for saving lives and reducing the burden of mosquito-borne diseases.”
Paldi’s previous company, Beeologics, developed a solution to combat honeybee colony collapse disorder; it was acquired by Monsanto in 2011.
[Photo: Israel21c ]