Drug Push for Mosquito-Borne Diseases

ORLANDO - Florida university researchers are starting a special push to create new drugs for mosquito-borne diseases, like dengue fever, West Nile virus and equine encephalitis. They'll be meeting with pharmaceutical industry representatives in Orlando today to kick off the year-long initiative. [audio:http://eunalhee.com/wp-content/uploads/Lhee_mosquitopharm.mp3|titles=mosquitopharm|artists=Lhee]

The University of Florida and the University of South Florida got more than half a million dollars for the project from the state last year. They plan to work with pharmaceutical companies for drug development in emerging diseases.

USF chemistry professor Bill Baker said the project is focusing on mosquito-borne illnesses, like dengue fever and West Nile virus, because of recent outbreaks in the state.

"It’s an integrative approach to try to make sure that vector-borne diseases don’t become an epidemic, for example, in the state of Florida," Baker said.

In addition to drug research, Baker said the collaboration will look into preventative measures, like mosquito control, disease surveillance and vaccines. [HealthyState.org | FPR Spot]