Scientists gather seeking ways to stop insects from transmitting disease

July 13, 2001

CLEVELAND -- The 6th annual Cleveland Vector Encounter will be held July 14-15 at Case Western Reserve University. This meeting will gather scientists from around the country and abroad who work with insects that transmit disease. The encounter is organized by Marcelo Jacobs-Lorena, is a professor of genetics at CWRU. The meeting is supported in part by funds from the CWRU medical school.

The study of disease vectors has come of age in the last few years and has been making tremendous advances. Malaria, a mosquito-transmitted disease, kills about 2 million people (mostly children) every year, about the same number of people that are killed annually by AIDS or tuberculosis. Equally important but much less appreciated is the fact that malaria incidence and mortality have remained steady, implying that little progress is being made in the fight of this disease.

Parasite resistance to drugs, mosquito resistance to insecticides and difficulties in developing a vaccine, all underscore the need for alternative approaches. Genetic modification of the mosquito vector to render it incapable of transmitting the parasite is one such approach and important progress in this approach have been recently reported by prestigious journals such as Nature and Science. The importance of studying vector insects has been recognized by the community at large, as exemplified by the increased commitment of public agencies (such as the National Institutes of Health and European research organizations) and the private sector (including Celera, as well as pharmaceutical and agricultural companies).

The goal of the Cleveland Vector Encounter is to gather prominent vector researchers from around the United States, Canada, and South America and to provide a forum for the free discussion of ways to combat the spread of devastating insect-transmitted diseases. The format of this meeting is unique in that it emphasizes informality and free discussion of ideas, not the presentation of data. The Cleveland Vector Encounter provides researchers with the opportunity to get immediate feedback and suggestions for their own research from some of the world's leading vector researchers. Over the years, the Cleveland Vector Encounter has fostered several collaborations between laboratories that have directly resulted from interactions at this meeting.

Around 60 scientists representing the leading laboratories are expected to participate in this year's encounter. As in the past, this year's encounter is expected to catalyze interactions among research groups that will hopefully lead to the control of major insect-transmitted diseases.

Case Western Reserve University

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