ICMR signs pact with Australian varsity

With a mission to eliminate dengue, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and Monash University, Australia, has entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to collaborate on the technology to combat dengue.

The work will involve investigating the use of self-sustaining Wolbachia bacteria to combat dengue and other mosquito-born viruses in India.

The three-member team headed by Scott O’Neill, Director, Institute of Vector-Borne Disease and Eliminate Dengue Program, Monash University, Australia, were visiting Vector Control Research Centre (VCRC) in Puducherry to facilitate the transfer of technology.

P. Jambulingam, Director, Vector Control Research Centre, ICMR, said that the Monash University would be providing the technical expertise to combat dengue.

To be tested in a lab

“The efficacy of the disease control method will be tested in the laboratory. The team from Monash University will help set up the laboratory for study and provide technical support. This technology will be tested in the laboratory as part of the dengue control programme before it is taken for the field studies,” he said.

He explained that the technology introduces Wolbachia bacteria in dengue virus carrying mosquitoes, Aedes aegypti, to inhibit viral transmission.

Explaining about the technology, Scott O’Neill, Director, Institute of Vector-Borne Disease and Eliminate Dengue Program, Monash University, said that they use Wolbachia bacteria that reduce the ability of mosquitoes to transmit harmful human viruses such as dengue, chikungunya, and zika.

“We have been working in Cairns and Townsville regions in Australia since 2011.

“The results have shown that there are no local transmission cases of dengue for the last three years,” he said.

He added that the first phase of the trail will be held for 12 months. “This method is also used in countries such as Brazil, Colombia, Indonesia, Vietnam countries,” he said.

Sarala K Subbarao, Consultant, Vector Borne Diseases Science Forum, ECD Division, ICMR, Enrica Longo, Director, External Relations, Eliminate Dengue Program, Monash University, Edwige Rances, Project Development Manager – Indonesia, Eliminate Dengue Program, Monash University were present.

The team interacted with representatives from the important medical institutions in Puducherry, including Jawaharlal Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education and Research and PIMS and faculties from Pondicherry Central University.