SEEDA grant to tackle Asian tiger mosquito menace

August 11, 2009

Oxitec has been awarded a South East England Development Agency (SEEDA) Research and Development grant to develop its technology for the control of the Asian tiger mosquito, Aedes albopictus.

The Asian tiger mosquito transmits the viral diseases dengue fever and chikungunya. Together with the related mosquito Aedes aegypti, the Asian tiger mosquito has been spread rapidly round the world by travellers and traders, increasing the number of people at risk of contracting mosquito-borne diseases. The Asian tiger mosquito has spread across the USA and southern Europe as well as Asia and Latin America. Dengue and chikungunya are both increasing disease problems that are not addressed by vaccines or specific medications. The only way to protect humans is to prevent them from being bitten by mosquitoes, but current control methods do not suppress mosquito populations far enough to break disease transmission. The Aedes mosquitoes are well adapted to live with humans in urban environments and lay their durable eggs in small containers of clean water, making them hard to find and control. Oxitec’s safe and clean technology uses sterile male mosquitoes (which don’t bite) to find the females, mate with them and thereby to control the population. Oxitec has developed its technology in Aedes aegypti. The SEEDA support will help Oxitec to translate RIDL® into the Asian tiger mosquito.