OXFORD, UK, 31st May 2016 – Oxitec and Piracicaba City Hall have today finalized their multi-year expansion of the ‘Friendly Aedes aegypti Project’ to cover an area of 60,000 people in the center of the city of Piracicaba, Brazil. Due to the large number of people who travel through this region, this project may also benefit neighbouring areas of the city. Additionally, the initial project, which has been deploying Oxitec’s OX513A solution in an area of 5,000 people in the CECAP/Eldorado district since April 2015, has been extended.
“Piracicaba’s decision to broaden the reach of our project demonstrates their confidence in our innovative vector control solution and is an important step forward in the effort to combat the dangerous Aedes aegypti mosquito, and the viruses it transmits, in a highly targeted and environmentally safe manner,” said Oxitec Chief Executive Officer Hadyn Parry. “We have a cost-effective solution that is proven and ready to be deployed to make a real impact in saving lives and protecting economies.”
It is estimated that up to half of the world’s population lives alongside the dangerous Aedes aegypti mosquitoes which are the primary vector for dengue, chikungunya, and Zika virus — some of the most damaging arboviruses to public health and economies of nations. For Brazil in particular, this mosquito has become an increasing health risk given the significant incidence of dengue as well as the rise in Zika and chikungunya infections. The Zika virus has been linked to birth defects such as microcephaly, and all three viruses cause a number of neurological disorders such as acute myelitis, meningoencephalitis, and Guillain-Barré syndrome.
Efficacy trials of Oxitec’s genetically engineered OX513A mosquito across Brazil, Panama and the Cayman Islands all resulted in a greater than 90% suppression of the wild Ae. aegypti mosquito population – an unprecedented level of control. Oxitec’s solution was recently recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) for deployment in operational conditions, and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) recently declared it will provide technical support for countries that wish to implement OX513A in the fight against this menacing mosquito.
Under the terms of the expansion/extension agreement, Oxitec will deploy its ‘Friendly Aedes aegypti’ control solution near the center of the city of Piracicaba for two years, and continue to protect people in the CECAP/Eldorado district for another year. To support this growing program and to meet increasing demand for its proprietary vector control solution, Oxitec is building a new mosquito production facility in Piracicaba that will generate many jobs in the region. This facility will have the capacity to produce 60 million Oxitec male mosquitoes a week to help protect over 300,000 people.
The Health Secretary of Piracicaba, Pedro Mello, commented, “It is with great joy that we signed this contract. It’s one more step we take towards making the city of Piracicaba the first in the world to rid itself of this mosquito that has caused so much harm to millions of people worldwide. From July 2014 to 2015, CECAP/Eldorado had 133 dengue fever cases. From July 2015 to May 20th, 2016, the same neighborhood had only 7 confirmed cases. Importantly we are doing this with a technology that is innovative, clean, environmentally friendly and sustainable.”
Oxitec is the only GM insect company in the world and a pioneer in using genetic engineering to control insect pests that spread disease and damage crops. Oxitec was founded in 2002 as a spinout from Oxford University (UK), and is now a subsidiary of Intrexon Corporation (NYSE: XON), which engineers biology to help solve some of the world’s biggest problems. Oxitec’s self-limiting insect control targets only the one species of pest in a way that is non-toxic and pesticide-free, providing vector control that is both effective and environmentally friendly. Follow us on Twitter at @Oxitec.
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