Nuclear science to fight sleeping sickness

Nov 27, 2009

The International Atomic Energy Agency on Friday announced an agreement to help African nations battle the tsetse fly, the main carrier of parasites that causes sleeping sickness with its bites.

The IAEA, which has been working on the problem with African countries for 30 years, can make available a Sterile Insect Technique (SIT), a nuclear-based pest control technology that is often described as "biological birth control for insects", according to the agency's website.

The IAEA signed a memorandum of understanding on Wednesday with the African Union, extending cooperation in a range of domains. Work on follows an effective trial in Zanzibar in the late 1990s.

Sleeping sickness, or trypanosomosis in animals, is a deadly disease found in 35 African countries, where it kills 400,000 people a year, along with some three million head of cattle.

Apart from the cost in lives, the disease is seen as a major obstacle to development, causing an estimated loss in earnings of about four billion dollars (2.7 billion euros) a year.

"In SIT-supported pest suppression and prevention campaigns, millions of sterilized male insects are released into targeted areas. They mate with wild females in the field, but no offspring are produced. Eventually, the population is suppressed and steadily reduced over time," the IAEA explained.

Medical cooperation is part of the brief of the IAEA, which is based in Vienna and is responsible for promoting peaceful uses of atomic energy.

(c) 2009 AFP

Explore further: 'Ebola will return', veteran scientist warns

Related Stories

Revealing secrets of 'African sleeping sickness'

Oct 27, 2008

Scientists in the United Kingdom and Russia are reporting identification of a long-sought chink in the armor of the parasite that causes African sleeping sickness, a parasitic disease that kills at least 50,000 people each ...

Screw worm outbreak in Yemen

May 06, 2008

An outbreak of the insidious ´screw worm´ fly in Yemen, is threatening livelihoods, in a country where rearing livestock is a traditional way of life. In recent weeks, a Ministerial delegation was at the IAEA in Vienna, ...

Are sterile mosquitoes the answer to malaria elimination?

Nov 16, 2009

The Sterile Insect Technique (SIT), the release of sexually sterile male insects to wipe out a pest population, is one suggested solution to the problem of malaria in Africa. A new supplement, published in BioMed Central's ...

Recommended for you

'Ebola will return', veteran scientist warns

8 hours ago

Congolese expert Jean-Jacques Muyembe may be little known to the public, but he has been one of the world's top Ebola investigators since the first epidemic erupted in central Africa in 1976.

Score IDs patients with upper extremity DVT at low risk

23 hours ago

(HealthDay)—For patients with upper-extremity deep vein thrombosis (DVT), six easily available factors can be used to create a score that identifies those at low risk of adverse events during the first ...

Combined drug treatment combats kidney disease

May 29, 2015

A recent discovery by drug researchers whereby coupling specific cell membrane receptors has altered kidney cell function has triggered a re-think of how to treat chronic kidney disease (CKD) more effectively.

Active substance targeting dreaded hospital germs

May 29, 2015

In the German Center for Infection Research (DZIF), scientists have conducted clinical studies on an active substance against the dreaded hospital pathogen Staphylococcus aureus: a highly effective protein from bacteriophages ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.