Program to be implemented in Cali’s Comuna 16 to fight wild Aedes aegypti, the mosquito that transmits Zika, dengue, chikungunya, Mayaro and yellow fever
Santiago de Cali, Colombia, April 10th 2017 – The Municipality of Santiago de Cali, Colombia, and Oxitec Ltd. announced today a memorandum of understanding to deploy Friendly™ Aedes in the Comuna 16 region to help protect over 104,000 residents. Friendly™ Aedes is an innovative approach to fight the Aedes aegypti mosquito that transmits Zika, dengue, chikungunya, Mayaro, and yellow fever.
“Friendly™ Aedes has shown outstanding levels of suppression of wild Aedes aegypti. This single urban-dwelling mosquito species has been responsible for the vast majority of dangerous viruses transmitted to our residents leading to a variety of health disorders. We are enthusiastic about the adoption of such an innovative solution and are excited to get the program underway as expeditiously as possible,” said Alex Durán, Health Secretary of Santiago de Cali.
Santiago de Cali is the main economic center and most populous city in the southwest region of Colombia with over 2.3 million residents. There are a total of 22 comunas within the Cali region. The initial project is for Cali’s Comuna 16 region, and its commencement is expected to begin after permits and licenses are obtained in accordance with Colombian law.
“We believe the effectiveness of our solution will drive significant benefits helping overcome ineffectual conventional approaches against this increasingly hazardous mosquito and the harm it causes,” added David Ruggiero, Vice President Product Development and Commercialization for Intrexon.
“Oxitec is focused on reducing populations of these dangerous mosquitoes without off-target effects and we are thrilled to be working with Cali to bring our scalable solution to market in this region,” said Fradique González Villalobos, Oxitec’s Business Development Manager in Colombia.
In five separate trials in Brazil, Panama, and the Cayman Islands, Oxitec’s environmentally-friendly solution has reduced the wild Aedes aegypti population by more than 90% – an unparalleled level of control.
Through collaboration with governments in the past year, Oxitec’s Friendly™ Aedes has expanded into additional neighborhoods within Piracicaba, Brazil, and has also been deployed in the Cayman Islands. Notably, public support for Oxitec’s innovative technology in these areas has been strong. Surveys indicated that 69% of Grand Cayman residents and 92.8% of Piracicaba’s citizens support the use of Oxitec’s Friendly™ Aedes.
How Friendly™ Aedes works
Oxitec has been working in Aedes aegypti control for over a decade and pioneered the use of a biological method to suppress wild populations of this dangerous mosquito species through the release of Friendly™ Aedes males, which do not bite and do not transmit diseases. When released, these males search for wild females to mate, and their offspring inherit a self-limiting gene that causes them to die before reaching functional adulthood. Friendly™ Aedes’ offspring also inherit a fluorescent marker that allows tracking and monitoring at a level never before achieved, making the assessment of effectiveness more accurate throughout the whole Friendly™ Aedes deployment program. Unlike other approaches, Friendly™ Aedes mosquitoes die along with their offspring, and therefore do not persist in the environment or leave any ecological footprint.
Oxitec is a pioneer in using genetic engineering to control insect pests that spread disease and damage crops, and was founded in 2002 as a spinout from Oxford University (UK). Oxitec is a subsidiary of Intrexon Corporation (NYSE: XON), which engineers biology to help solve some of the world’s biggest problems. Follow us on Twitter at @Oxitec.
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