Sayre Team Works to Stop Disease such as Zika

Dr. Richard Sayre, a top-level research scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory, New Mexico Consortium affiliate and chief scientific officer of Pebble Labs Inc., is working on creating biotechnology that will prevent the spread of viral diseases such as the Zika virus that live in mosquitos.

Dr. Sayre has now assembling a team of four international research scientists and two technicians who will be testing this biotechnology to prevent both mosquito and plant diseases.

The group is working on genetically engineered bacteria that will be consumed by mosquito larvae or injected into plants that carry diseases. The bacteria contains a strand of double-stranded RNA. Once inside the insect or plant, this RNA will bread down into a small single-stranded RNA that will interfere with a gene that is vital to a certain disease and will essentially “turn off” the messenger disease RNA.

Sayre’s team is trying to address the spread of Zika virus and other vector-borne diseases such as dengue and yellow fever.

While some are concerned about GMO’s, Sayre said that RNA molecules are “naturally occurring in all living organisms” and are considered safe when attacking the correct gene target. Also, this method does not kill the mosquito or plant. Nothing foreign is being introduced to the plant or mosquito and they are able to survive with the bacteria living inside them.

To read more see the Albuquerque Journal article: LANL Scientist Testing Bacteria to Stop Diseases

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