Researchers Receive Federal Awards To Fight Mosquito-Borne Diseases

July 6, 2015 | By Jerry Ashworth | Post a Comment

mosquito-652264-mIt’s almost as if it were kismet that I came across this story this morning. After asking a coworker this morning how her July 4th weekend was, she admitted that she was covered in mosquito bites after spending the day outside. Knowing how bad mosquitoes can get here in the nation’s capital, or anywhere in the U.S. for that matter, my wife and I teamed with some neighbors to spring for a pesticide service to routinely spray for mosquitoes around our houses. It works so well, I tend to forget how much of a summer pest mosquitoes can be.

Luckily, after living with the blood-sucking insects for years, I’ve never been truly harmed by them, other than the occasional itch. However, mosquitoes can be deadly. That’s where researchers at the University of Pittsburgh Center for Vaccine Research (CVR) comes in.

According to the University of Pittsburgh Medical College website, scientists at the CVR recently received about $4 million through five federal grants to study mosquito-borne viruses, with the goal of developing vaccines and therapies to treat the deadly viruses. CVR Associate Professor William Klimstra, Ph.D. received three of the grants. Two from the National Institutes of Health totaling about $850,000 to study the genetic code of a particular form of mosquito-borne virus and research a vaccine for it. The third grant of about $1.2 million from the Department of Defense (DoD) will go to developing a vaccine for a different viruses.

Associate Professor Kate Ryman, Ph.D. also received about $1.725 million from DoD to study mosquito-based viruses. Ryman and Klimstra will be working with researchers from other institutions on many of these efforts. “The technologies used in these studies and the systematic manner in which vaccines and therapeutics for the alphaviruses are being developed are novel and, given positive results, these approaches can be readily applied to other emerging infectious diseases,” said Dr. Ryman.

More power to them! And as an added bonus, if these research under these grants proves successful, the researchers stand to gain an additional $3 million in funding. Mosquitoes are vicious insects and have caused severe disease outbreaks worldwide. Those who have suffered from these diseases, or those of us who have simply been bothered by the occasional itch or rash related to mosquitoes, will say that this funding is well-spent.

Let us know how you feel about research spending on mosquito-borne diseases.



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