Molecular biology is a powerful approach to takle some of the most persistant problems in human health. The Hansen lab is part of the Institute of Applied Biosciences that is focused on emerging infectious diseases.
Why study mosquitoes?
Mosquitoes are vectors for some of the most devastating diseases known to humanity since its early history. During the 1950s and 1960s mosquito-borne diseases were thought to have been brought under control through reduction of mosquito populations by large-scale vector control programs and anti malarial drugs. However, a resurgence of the diseases began during the late 1970s and continues to this day due to a complex array of factors such as mosquito pesticide resistance, lack of effective vaccines, parasite resistance to drugs, and political mismanagement.
Today, malaria alone affects 200 to 300 Million people, every year and claims the lives of one to three million humans, especially young children insub-Saharan Africa.
It is estimated that there are worldwide more than 100 million cases of Dengue Fever every year along with several hundreds of thousand cases of the more severe form Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever. Dengue viruses are transmitted by the yellow fever mosquito Aedes aegypti. Today, Dengue is the most important mosquito-borne viral disease affecting humans with a global distribution comparable with malaria.
The reproductive physiology of mosquitoes is tightly linked to their ability to transmit disease pathogens due to the fact that mosquitoes need blood for egg production. Therefore, a detailed understanding of reproductive processes on a molecular level will help enable us to identify new ways to disrupt the process of disease transmission. Illumination of the molecular biology underlying mosquito reproduction will pave the way for the development of novel vector control strategies with the ultimate goal of eradicating mosquito-transmitted diseases.