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An Aedes aegypti mosquitoe that can spread dengue, Zika and chikungunya. Photo: App Gomes/AFP/Getty Images

In an experiment, Australian scientists killed more than 80% of the mosquitoes that spread dengue fever, Zika and chikungunya by using a sterilization technique in locations across north Queensland.

Why it matters: This experiment was conducted as part of a global effort to combat the pest that infects millions with disease each year, and its success offers a potential solution to controlling the spread of deadly illnesses.

How they did it: Scientists from the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO), Verily and James Cook University (JCU) bred almost 20 million male Aedes aegypti mosquitoes in a laboratory, infecting males with a naturally occurring bacteria that made them sterile.

  • More than three million of the males were later released in trial zones along the Cassowary Coast in Queensland. The sterile male mosquitoes mated with wild females, resulting in eggs that did not hatch.
"The invasive Aedes aegypti mosquito is one of the world’s most dangerous pests, capable of spreading devastating diseases like dengue, Zika and chikungunya and responsible for infecting millions of people with disease around the world each year,"
— CSIRO director of health and biosecurity Rob Grenfell, in a press release.

The process used in the study, known as the Sterile Insect Technique, has existed since the 1950s. However, this is one of the few times it has been successfully used for Aedes aegypti mosquitoes.

Verily, an affiliate of Google parent company Alphabet, developed a mosquito rearing and sex sorting and release technology used in the study.

Editor's note: The text was updated to indicate that this study was not the first to use the SIT technique on Aedes aegypti mosquitoes.

Go deeper

Updated 5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Giuliani associate Lev Parnas convicted of campaign finance crimes

Lev Parnas, a former associate of then-President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Florida businessman Lev Parnas was convicted Friday on charges of conspiracy to make foreign contributions to political campaigns, according to multiple outlets.

Why it matters: Prosecutors said Parnas, then an associate of former President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, funneled over $150,000 from a Russian businessman into U.S. campaigns as part of an effort to land licenses in the U.S.'s legal cannabis industry.

Supreme Court agrees to hear challenges to Texas abortion law

Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to hear two cases challenging Texas' abortion law, which bans the procedure as soon as six weeks into pregnancy, but left the law in place in the meantime.

Why it matters: The court is moving extraordinarily fast on the Texas cases, compressing into just a few days a process that normally takes months. And that schedule means the court will take up Texas' ban a month before it hears another major abortion case — a challenge to Mississippi's own 2018 ban on abortions after 15 weeks.

10 hours ago - Technology

Officials warn 5 key tech sectors will determine whether China overtakes U.S.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

U.S. intelligence officials responsible for protecting advanced technologies have narrowed their focus to five key sectors: artificial intelligence, quantum computing, biotechnology, semiconductors and autonomous systems.

Why it matters: China and Russia are employing a variety of legal and illegal methods to undermine and overtake U.S. dominance in these critical industries, officials warned in a new paper. Their success will determine "whether America remains the world’s leading superpower or is eclipsed by strategic competitors."

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