About the network

The network facilitates the development and implementation of novel control strategies for vector-borne diseases of enormous importance to human / animal health and agriculture in low and middle income countries of Africa, South East Asia and South and Central America.  

Aedes Aegypti Mosquito

Insects that could be controlled by the successful implementation of these strategies include:

  • mosquito vectors of malaria, and of dengue, chikungunya and Zika viruses
  • tsetse fly vectors of trypanosomiasis
  • whitefly vectors of cassava mosaic virus

This network focuses on two highly promising novel approaches:

  • genetic modification
  • use of heritable endosymbionts

Both require the rearing and release of insect disease vectors with the aim of suppressing vector populations or blocking their transmission of pathogens. They are highly targeted, species specific strategies, which in some cases may only require a short intervention phase rather than repeated applications, thus providing major advantages in terms of environmental impact and cost effectiveness. Some, for example Wolbachia symbionts, are already starting to be deployed in a number of countries.

The Network draws together individuals from a broad range of scientific disciplines engaged in developing and deploying these approaches to foster knowledge exchange, methodological and technological sharing, and stimulates innovative collaborative research projects that will lay the foundation for new approaches or more effective implementation. 

Importantly, given the potential impact of these approaches in developing countries, this Network helps to consolidate and expand the links between leading UK scientists and excellent researchers based in disease-endemic countries.

Key Themes explored include:

  • Vector-pathogen interactions
  • Genetic modification technologies
  • Gene drive systems
  • Sterility systems
  • Symbionts and transmission blocking
  • Population biology and modelling
  • Vector behaviour
  • Field trials and impacts

The Network co-Directors and Management Board oversee the Network and evaluate applications for pump-priming research awards for novel projects from members, along with short training and technology exchange visits between members’ groups.