The Scope

Video: Infecting Aedes mosquitos with a type of bacteria could control dengue, other viral diseases

India is going to conduct a trial to check if this technology can be used to control dengue in the country.

Mosquitoes infected with bacteria can limit the spread of dengue, studies in five countries have shown, and now this biotechnology is being considered for dengue control in india.

On Tuesday, the Indian Council of Medical Research signed a memorandum of understanding with Monash University in Australia, one of the countries in which studies have been conducted and where the vector control technology has been developed. The first phase of the trial will examine the impact of Wolbachia – a genus of bacteria that normally infects arthropod animals like insects and butterflies – on dengue and chikungunya viruses in India. The trial will be conducted at the Vector Control Research Centre in Puducherry.

A team of Australian scientists have successfully transferred a strain of Wolbachia bacteria into Aedes mosquitoes that spread dengue, chikungunya and Japanese encephalitis. The naturally-occurring Wolbachia bacteria, which is present in 60% of insect populations, limits the replication of the disease-producing virus such as dengue and chikungunya. The technology is being tried in Brazil, Columbia, Indonesia and Vietnam.

In Australia’s cities like Townsville and Cairns, and some sites in Indonesia where the technology was used, there has been no local transmission of dengue since the introduction of the bacteria into the mosquito population, said Professor Scott O’Neill from Monash University. The bacteria could also work to limit the growth of the West Nile and Zika viruses.

“The key point with the use of Wolbachia is that the bacteria gets passed down from one generation to another,” said O’Neill. “As a public health intervention, it provides ongoing protection and does not have to be reapplied.”

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The bacteria is also safe for the environment and human beings, said Dr Soumya Swaminathan, director general of the Indian Council of Medical Research. The bacteria only lives in cells of the insects and does not infect humans.

“We have to study how practical it is to breed the mosquitoes and release them,” said Swaminathan. “We also have to understand the cost-effectiveness of vector control.”

So far, India has been relying on insecticides for vector control. The government could consider using this technology with the existing tools of vector control, said Dr P Jambulingam from the Puducherry institute.

The technology has also been tried on the anopheles mosquito, which transmits malaria. “Initial results show that the bacteria impedes malaria parasite,” said O’Neill.

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Following a mountaineer as he reaches the summit of Mount Everest

Accounts from Vikas Dimri’s second attempt reveal the immense fortitude and strength needed to summit the Everest.

Vikas Dimri made a huge attempt last year to climb the Mount Everest. Fate had other plans. Thwarted by unfavourable weather at the last minute, he came so close and yet not close enough to say he was at the top. But that did not deter him. Vikas is back on the Everest trail now, and this time he’s sharing his experiences at every leg of the journey.

The Everest journey began from the Lukla airport, known for its dicey landing conditions. It reminded him of the failed expedition, but he still moved on to Namche Bazaar - the staging point for Everest expeditions - with a positive mind. Vikas let the wisdom of the mountains guide him as he battled doubt and memories of the previous expedition. In his words, the Everest taught him that, “To conquer our personal Everest, we need to drop all our unnecessary baggage, be it physical or mental or even emotional”.

Vikas used a ‘descent for ascent’ approach to acclimatise. In this approach, mountaineers gain altitude during the day, but descend to catch some sleep. Acclimatising to such high altitudes is crucial as the lack of adequate oxygen can cause dizziness, nausea, headache and even muscle death. As Vikas prepared to scale the riskiest part of the climb - the unstable and continuously melting Khumbhu ice fall - he pondered over his journey so far.

His brother’s diagnosis of a heart condition in his youth was a wakeup call for the rather sedentary Vikas, and that is when he started focusing on his health more. For the first time in his life, he began to appreciate the power of nutrition and experimented with different diets and supplements for their health benefits. His quest for better health also motivated him to take up hiking, marathon running, squash and, eventually, a summit of the Everest.

Back in the Himalayas, after a string of sleepless nights, Vikas and his team ascended to Camp 2 (6,500m) as planned, and then descended to Base Camp for the basic luxuries - hot shower, hot lunch and essential supplements. Back up at Camp 2, the weather played spoiler again as a jet stream - a fast-flowing, narrow air current - moved right over the mountain. Wisdom from the mountains helped Vikas maintain perspective as they were required to descend 15km to Pheriche Valley. He accepted that “strength lies not merely in chasing the big dream, but also in...accepting that things could go wrong.”

At Camp 4 (8,000m), famously known as the death zone, Vikas caught a clear glimpse of the summit – his dream standing rather tall in front of him.

It was the 18th of May 2018 and Vikas finally reached the top. The top of his Everest…the top of Mount Everest!

Watch the video below to see actual moments from Vikas’ climb.

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Vikas credits his strength to dedication, exercise and a healthy diet. He credits dietary supplements for helping him sustain himself in the inhuman conditions on Mount Everest. On heights like these where the oxygen supply drops to 1/3rd the levels on the ground, the body requires 3 times the regular blood volume to pump the requisite amount of oxygen. He, thus, doesn’t embark on an expedition without double checking his supplements and uses Livogen as an aid to maintain adequate amounts of iron in his blood.

Livogen is proud to have supported Vikas Dimri on his ambitious quest and salutes his spirit. To read more about the benefits of iron, see here. To read Vikas Dimri’s account of his expedition, click here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Livogen and not by the Scroll editorial team.