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Biotech: Can Microscopic Sentries Protect US Troops?

Breaking Defense

Posted by Sydney Freedberg Jr. on Jun 30, 2019

It turns out that mosquitos have been high on the US Army’s hit list since Maj. Ronald Ross discovered in 1904 that they were transmitting yellow fever, malaria, and other diseases decimating the workforce building a vital piece of strategic infrastructure, the Panama Canal. With war and terrorism festering in the warmer parts of the world, US troops still have to deploy to mosquito-infested areas, and the current protections are…crude.

“We’re talking about soaking uniforms in DEET, which is toxic,” said Stratus-Cullum. “Can we actually create a barrier to repel and prevent insects from even infecting the soldier? We have some strategies to do that.”

For example, added Battelle scientist and DARPA alumnus Justin Sanchez, it’s possible to use the gene-editing enzyme CRISPR-Cas9 to alter a microorganism’s DNA so it exudes a volatile substance — i.e. an odor — that repels insects.

Read the full article here.

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