MICROBIAL ASSASSIN BRINGS DOWN A KILLERBy Monash University May 17, 2012 2:00PM UTC
Words: Julian CribbA tiny microbe employed as a living ‘guided missile’ has raised hopes for halting in its tracks one of the world’s most debilitating pandemics – the dengue virus.Over the past two years an international scientific team led by Monash University’s Professor Scott O’Neill has achieved a series of remarkable breakthroughs in the war on the dengue virus, a mosquito borne scourge that infects 50 to 100 million people a year and threatens the health of 2.5 billion citizens of the tropics. The microbial ‘missile’ is a bacterium that, in effect, intercepts the virus between its transmission from mosquito to human. Researchers say the breakthrough may have opened up a fresh avenue for the control of other insect-borne diseases including malaria, which claims around two million lives a year. Without an effective control, the impact of these diseases is likely to only get worse as many parts of the world get warmer and wetter.