Using advanced genetics and molecular biology Oxitec has developed a new and innovative solution to controlling the dangerous mosquito, Aedes aegypti.
The Oxitec solution harnesses the natural instincts of male mosquitoes to find females in the wild. Oxitec has used genetic engineering to create ‘self-limiting’ male insects which seek out and mate with females. After an Oxitec male mosquito has successfully mated with a wild female, any offspring that result will not survive to adulthood, so the mosquito population declines.
The Oxitec Control Programme is the system through which Oxitec mosquitoes are released and monitored over a predetermined and sustained period of time in an area with Aedes aegypti mosquitoes. By applying the Oxitec Control Programme to an area, the mosquito population in that area can be dramatically reduced or eliminated.
Unlike conventional insecticides or pesticides, which kill insects indiscriminately, the Oxitec approach is targeted at a single species. This means that, as well as being more effective, it is much better for the environment than conventional tools.
Itrexon Corporation (NYSE: XON), a leader in the engineering and industrialization of biology to improve the quality of life and health of the planet, announced its wholly owned subsidiary Oxitec has opened its new Friendly™ Aedes mosquito production facility in Piracicaba, Brazil. The new 5,000 m² facility has the capacity to produce 60 million Friendly™ Aedes per week which can help protect up to 3 million people by significantly reducing local populations of the dangerous Aedes aegypti mosquito.
They will mate with the females of the ordinary mosquitoes, spawning babies with a genetically inbuilt flaw that causes them to die quickly.
Piracicaba is the world’s “first and biggest factory” of genetically modified mosquitos, said Oxitec president Hadyn Parry.
Oxitec’s pioneering biological method involves the release of engineered, non-biting male mosquitoes that mate with wild females. The resulting offspring inherit a self-limiting gene preventing them from reaching adulthood and the males themselves die within days providing an eco-friendly solution that solely targets Aedes aegypti and does not persist in the environment. Oxitec will utilize a portion of the new facility’s significant production capability to support its ongoing deployment program in Piracicaba’s downtown area and CECAP/Eldorado district to suppress Aedes aegypti.
In conjunction with independent collaborators, Oxitec has conducted five open field trials of its self-limiting mosquitoes in Brazil, Panama and the Cayman Islands. Each trial led to a greater than 90% reduction of the wild Aedes aegypti population, achieving these unparalleled suppression results within six months on average. More recently, Piracicaba’s Epidemiologic Surveillance service released data showing the incidence of dengue had decreased by 91% to just 12 cases in the CECAP/Eldorado district where Friendly™ Aedes mosquitoes were released, compared to a 52% reduction in the rest of the city during the same 12-month period.
Notably the public support for the Friendly™ Aedes project has been strong. A survey conducted by the CW7 Market Research Institute in mid-2016 showed that 98% of Piracicaba’s citizens support the use of innovative tools to fight dengue, Zika and chikungunya, and 88% support the use of Friendly™ Aedes.
“This Friendly™ Aedes facility increases our current production capacity 30-fold in Brazil”, says Glen Slade, Oxitec’s VP and Director of Oxitec do Brasil. “This reaffirms our ability to produce Friendly™ Aedes at scale, and we are ready to expand our production even further to help protect the people of Brazil and beyond.”
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
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