DARPA’s Genetically Modified Skin For Soldiers To Stop Mosquito Bites
The US Department of Defense has launched a new project in coordination with DARPA, wherein Skin Bacteria of US Soldiers will be genetically engineered to fortify mosquito-born diseases such as, chikungunya, Malaria & Dengue – that depletes fighting fitness of the soldiers.
Mosquitoes attack by sniffing out certain chemicals released by an individual. Human skin harbors thousands of Bacteria, that consume their metabolite into chemicals that can attract more mosquitoes.
DARPA – Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency Darpa launched this project titled ReVector earlier this month. The projects aim is to formulate easy treatments like topical ointments or solutions which would repel mosquitoes not for hours buy for weeks together.
The project terms include delivering a method in a span of four years – that should lead to a 100 times reduction in mosquito feeding. A detailed proposal by DARPA is expected to be released by 11th July.
Chris Sund, ReVector program manager said that Human microbial metabolism on the skin attracts the mosquitoes. DARPA has asked the project members to identify microbial & molecular characteristics that differentiate the attraction levels. Once identified these molecular networks should be modeled in order to understand the leverage points that can be used to reduce the mosquitoes attraction.
Under the program, researchers will have to quantify the variability in the differnt individual’s microbiome, based on which a workable plan has to be formulated – test for its safety for both humans & environment and then deploy to the Soldiers.
Sund added that currently there is no specific budget assigned to this project. They need to figure out treatment plans ready for human clinical trials and then will hand it over to the DOD partners for further execution.
DARPA will be working with the FDA and Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Agriculture to supervise the project on regulatory perspectives.