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tv   Tech Know  Al Jazeera  April 1, 2016 3:30pm-4:01pm EDT

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another chamber that exists behind it. >> there is more on our website www.aljazeera.com. there you'll find the latest comment, analysis and video and blogs as well from our correspondents on the ground. do check it out. www.aljazeera.com. genetic modification, incredible science in the lab usually means this. it can be controversial, it can also be extremely beneficial. >> just like that, i'm genetically modified the mosquitos that carry two
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deadly diseases, malaria and dengue fever. both show promise they can work when standard methods do not >> that's not enough to prevent dengue transmission. >> reporter: you can do better? >> yes. >> reporter: so what are we waiting for? this is techknow, the show about innovations that can change lives. the intersection of hardware and humanitarian, and we're doing it in a unique way. this is a show about science by scientists. techknow investigates genetically modified mosquitos. welcome. joining me today is my guests. what would you say if i told you
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would could eradicate malaria and dengue fever but to do so we would have to release genetically modified mosquitos into the world. what do you think the reaction would be? >> i think it would be predictable. i've covered a lot of stories about g m organisms for techknow and there is a lot of push back for the public because of that lab. >> yeah, but we're not talking about sweeter strawberries. we're talking about saving hundreds of thousands of human lives. the science is there. i've seen it and touched it i've worked in jungles where these deceases are present. they're terrible and they're killers. if we can end this misery, why don't we? the female mosquito. easily one of the greatest pests of all time. this is one of the biggest pests at all.
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this is the mosquito blamed for spreading diseasing like dengue, chicken gunya and now zika, the disease hitting central america most people think it's crazy to stick your hand in a box full of mosquitos, but these are the males. they don't actually bite. the females on the other hand do. if you give them a blood meal, they will be feeding. so we're going to keep an eye on this because in about 30 minutes we will see them start to feed. if you get these-- to get these females get them really excited, you take the heat and the blood and add ar bondi objection onned-- carbon dioxide. that red in them is red for a reason.
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that's the blood. [ ♪ ] we have come to this laboratory about an hour from london, england, to learn about a very interesting mosquito. it's a genetically modified mosquito that is showing promise in the fight against dengue fever. there. >> it is that is incredible. how many are in there? >> threes 60 thousand mosquitos in there. 12 thousand females and four thousand males this man is the product development manager and oxetet labs. they are a company that first developed genetic modifications back in 2002 that showed promise population. >> it lives in and around people's homes. it will breed around your home and it has no need go any further than the end of your
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back garden. it. >> more cases of dengue fever confirmed dengue fever is making headlines. signs were up here today >> we just completed at the hospital. we're on day three youtube stars were among the victims of the latest outbreak in the fall of 2015. >> dengue fever has been increasing almost 30 times in the past 30 or so years. it has been increasing all around the world and it's spreading fast where is that from? it's huge >> it is huge it may make you think about remote areas of the world, but this is becoming a deadly problem around the world. according to the world health organisation in 2013 there were three million cases across the americas, south-east asia and the western pacific.
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the u.s. centers for disease control estimates there are 5200 million new cases of dengue fever each year. >> dengue is coffeed of four different viruses and what happens is they get infected with the dengue virus and then they can - it's call bone break fever. your muscles tense so much that it feels as though your bones are breaking vaccines for dengue are still in development, but currently the only way to control the disease is to control what scientists call the vector, in this case the insect spreading the disease. they do that by biting an infected person, acquiring the disease from blood and then else. >> as scientists we've been losing a fighting battle gents mosquito. they kill a person every 12 seconds. all of the control methods throughout mankind that we've
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tried to get rid of mosquito, this is the best. the types of results we're getting, 90% of suppression is way and above what is achieved by conventional control what he is talking about is a program that has been tested panama. this footage shows mosquitos being released in cam en. according to the company, that release in 2010 reduced the mosquito population by 90%. to understand what the mosquito is, we're heading lab. >> micro injection, i'm guessing that means it's a very tiny needle >> that's right ahere? >> that's right. you can see that on the right-hand side you're controlling that with this joy stick? >> that's right it's a video game with, genes. you need something that precise to stick into these epgs? >> that's right.
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to pierce the outside of the egg, introduce d.n.a. solution. these eggs will still hatch and carrying the gene that we've introduced. we can move the needle and we can pierce the end of an egg . i can deliver a little bit of d.n.a. you just click a button. >> that's right. now we've introduced our d.n.a. in that egg. it is unharmed and can be hatched later can i give it a shot? >> absolutely. please do you make it look so easy. >> a fair bit of practice. you should be able to get that egg now they make it look easy. it isn't. >> that's it. keep pushing. the needle will pierce the egg
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now i click the button >> left-hand button just like that i might have genetically modified a mosquito by the click of a bullet on what is happening here is basic genetic modification. they are receiving a gene that will inhibit production. it is a self-limiting gene. it produces a gene, the protein ties up the cells transcription machinery, that means essential genes can't be expressed naturally. they will not be able to develop and die off before necessity produce or transmit disease. effects? >> no. we have released over 120 million mosquitos and we have had no reports of adverse effects when we return, questions
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and controversy. when florida tries to bring the g m mosquitos. >> a mosquito control, doing this here, when we don't have a problem we will have some answers when this addition of techknow in england returns. we want to hear what you think. join the conversation by >> our american story is written everyday. it's not always pretty, but it's real... and we show you like no-one else can. this is our american story. this is america tonight.
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tomatos that resist a bacterial disease by carrying a pepper gene.
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super sweet strawberries that can survive fungus. that can grow to full size in half the time. >> this is cutting-edge science but when it comes to genetic modifications, it seems every solution born in the lab creates controversy in the real world. key west is florida's southern most paradise this is key west florida. as this tourist promotional video shows, there's no place quite like it, but the sunshine comes with a warning >> their bites can also infect us with life-threatening diseases local mosquito control departments in the keys are in a constant fight. mosquito born outbreaks have been largely controlled here but in 2009 key west sufrdz an outbreak of dengue fever. -- suffered an outbreak of dengue fever. >> the center for disease
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control is worried it is has dengue fever free since and they want to keep it that way. that's why they looked at the genetically modified solution. it has been met with concerns since introduced in 2011 >> anything genetically modified should not be touched you can hear it in the voices of residents speaking at this town hall meeting in march 2012. then again, december of 2014 >> why is the company doing this here now in the florida keys when we don't have a problem? [ applause ] before any field test can begin, the company needs government permission. as of january 2016 the u.s. food and drug administration tells techknow the center for veterinary section is reviewing an application.
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they will not predict when this review will be completed. >> even in the florida keys mosquito control district they have, i think it's like three airplanes, three helicopters >> it seems they have all the resources of the world yet they can only get the mosquito down 50% >> that's right. that's not enough to prevent dengue fever transmission >> you can do fwert? >> yes the company tells techknow fields trials in the cam en island, panama and brazil reduced the population by 90%. in fact, in 2015 a scientific advisory panel to the government of brazil approved the release of mosquito to control a outbreak. >> it has been released-- it has leafed 120 million mosquito for testing and it has approved 90% reduction.
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we spoke to a man at the university in brazil who helped analyse the data. he tells us the numbers are more like 60 to 70% reduction, not 90, and actually called into question the company's methods and said their analysis was below scientific standards. keep in mind 60 to 70% reduction is still better than what conventional treatments can do, but it's no 90. >> to release them it's as simple as opening the pot and letting them fly out in all those locations they don't release females. females bite people. they release males only and let nature do the rest. >> the males do most of the work for us. they're designed to go out and find those females the process begins in the company's sorting room where these workers have their hands full of mosquitos. it isn't a pretty sight. what's the next step?
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>> the next step is to get them out and that is a simple process. you just lift it out of the water, turn it upside down and then rinse it through then he takes me to what they call the rearing room. that's where the mosquitos get down to business. we know mosquitos drink blood, there? >> we put the blood on top of the cage like so, and then we have a heating element which goes on top of the feeding plate and that heats the blood producing the heat like body heat and that's what attracts the mosquito to the blood and then they feed by penetrating the film three days later they will lay genetically modified egg. >> we fake the paper like this and we brush it through a sieve
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and it is as simple as that they're so small >> we actually have 40 million eggs 40 million? >> 40 million eggs my gosh. those genetically modified eggs can be shipped around the world, hatched, raised and released. the insect comes with something else, a marker that can help identify the g m mosquitos from the rest of the population. so when you look at this, you're seeing six mosquito pupae and three of them are the company ones and the others are not. the only way you can tell is by changing the light. now, all of a sudden three of them disappear and only three are actually remaining glowing. those three have the company gene and along with it one that reflects light so we know which is when. success is one thing.
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acceptance is another. that's part of the battle that still must be decided. there are other questions as well. so the model say it stops the said? >> one of the challenges of these large diseases is getting proper scientific evidence simply put, the company doesn't have enough data yet. the mosquito population has dropped. cases? >> the trials we have conducted so far are not on a large enough scale to show any sort of dengue fever control coming up. ism i'm going to suck mosquito through a tube and not choke on them we're taken into a lab that is creating a g m mosquito that >> we're here to fully get into the nuances of everything that's going on, not just in this country, but around the world. getting the news from the people who are affected. >> people need to demand reform...
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>> ali velshi on target.
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al jazeera america. it's feeding time for these. this tin ee mosquito has a bad reputation. it's the main culprit behind the
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spread of malaria in urban india. like its brother mosquito that carries dengue fever, scientists are using the company to try and stop its deadly path. malaria is a killer. in 2015 over 4000,000 people died due to the deceased-- 400,000 do the mosquitos play a role? >> we don't have any data on that that host parasites. >> they want to come and take your blood the professor doesn't hate the mosquitos, just the diseases they carry. when he is not working in hot spots, he is here in the university of california. james and his team are behind a genetically issue. you're modifying mosquitos >> yes.
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genetic engineering not modification. because we like to imply there's some thought that goes into this you're changing their genes? >> we're giving them an extra gene in this case or a small package of genes. they have everything that they had before plus something extra. that extra prevents the parasites from developing in the mosquitos or being transmitted by the mosquitos the science is complex but the concept isn't. mall an i can't is a ar parasite spread by mosquitos. you have these special genes that make it, the mosquito resistant to malaria. >> correct then the next question is how do you get it in the population >> that's correct that's the gene drive >> yes. you can imagine a truck and a truck that has cargo. the gene drive component is the truck and what the truck is carrying are our genes simply put, each mosquito genetically engineered in this lab could spread the new genes into the entire mosquito
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population. first they have to get the d.n.a. package into the insect. is that really hard to do? could i try doing that? if we go in here and i won't let any out >> and suck. okay. good how did i do? >> good after the eggs are harvested it's time for the needle. it's a totally tedious process. she is using the tiniest tweezers to pick up individual eggs that are hassle a millimetre across, and lining them up one-by-one. that's precision. wow. once the eggs are loaded with d.n.a., they're grown to fully-formed adults, but the question is did at the time malaria resistant d.n.a. take? they put in a marker to make the detention easier >> we have a microscope that has
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a fluorescence capability and we look for them at that point. if they glow, we know that they have our gene through that we headed into the lab. is this where i get to see the red-eyed mosquito? >> absolutely. we will set them up for you first they need to be removed from the cup of water they call home. now that we've got these guys, we will take them under a microscope and put them in there >> can you see? it looks just taking a photo of someone, when you get that red-eye effect. that's what i'm seeing here. it's incredible. and so bright. it helps us to determine if they're genetically engineered or not and how many are making their way into the population. the key component to make sure they get into the general population is the gene drive. it is another discovery that is
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promising to revolutionise the industry. it is called the crisper cast nine system. >> you're going good here there you go i've failed you twice, but i still did the good. so in every mosquito there are two mom and dad's d.n.a. >> we figured out a way of getting the gene in dad's d.n.a. we give a whole bunch of copies of what we want to get in there. when this tries to fix itself, instead of trying to stick it together, it says i will use this - this looks like me and we fool it when it comes to keeping these mosquito segregated, we were shown the rules. none of these are taking flight >> we have two simply protocols. for the larvae
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we use a microwave. we give them a burst. we don't want any releases into the wild and one of the ways to do that is to make sure that no living material of this type gets out. we can't get it into the water supplies or anything like that. they're dead at this point rest in peace >> absolutely. thank you tony is an incredible guy. i mean, he has been doing this research for 20 years. i asked him if there was a big pay czech for you in the end. why are you doing this? he said no, i'm giving this way. his motivation is to create a better world for his sons and daughters >> for me i wonder what is the public perception going to be to somebody like that who is giving it away for free versus a company like oxitec trying to make a living. >> yes, we're talking about eradicatingaterrible class of
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diseases, but there is a genie out of the bottle with this gene drive. as soon as you make the decision to release these mosquitos into the environment, what's going to happen is going to happen. there's no going back the public seems to be afraid of g.m. organisms because they don't know much about them they have fascinating mitigation strategies to keep on top of how they're doing. they're starting in a remote place and see what happens there. when we have a better understanding of how these animals impact the environment we can take it elsewhere >> we have all seen jurassic park, all right? they will naefr leave the island >> this mosquito has spread all over the world. it is piggy backing on humans, but still an island is a relatively safe place. these issues raise a tonne of questions which we here at
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techknow, we're going to stay on top of. that's it for this episode. see you next time. dive deep into these stories and go behind the scenes at aljazeera.com/techknow. follow us on social well. >> al jazeera america - proud to tell critical and timely stories of race in america. >> i think since he was a person of color, the police department won't care. >> i'm more scared of the police than a burglar.
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