The Cayman Government and Oxitec Launch Innovative Pilot to Suppress Aedes aegypti
Cayman’s mosquito control unit announces launch of new pilot project that will combine Oxitec’s Friendly™Aedes aegypti mosquito with traditional integrated vector control methods.
West Bay, Grand Cayman, May 22, 2018– The Cayman Islands’ Mosquito Research and Control Unit (MRCU) and Oxitec Ltd. announced today the launch of a new partnership this year as part of the MRCU’s efforts to combat Aedes aegyptimosquitoes in the Cayman Islands. The partnership will focus on implementing a new pilot project that will integrate Oxitec’s Friendly™ Aedes aegypti mosquitoes with more traditional methods used in integrated vector management (“IVM”) efforts, allowing for the evaluation of a combined approach designed to dramatically suppress this vector of Zika, dengue, yellow fever, and chikungunya.
“Aedes aegypticontinues to threaten the residents of the Cayman Islands, and it’s important that we seek out and assess new technologies to tackle these mosquitoes,” said Jim McNelly, MRCU Director. “Integrating several techniques is expected to increase efficiency and reduce the cost of vector control as we aim to eliminate Aedes aegyptifrom Grand Cayman.”
The Cayman government and Oxitec have worked together for almost a decade.In 2009, MRCU performed the world’s first suppression trial with Oxitec’sself-limiting Friendly™ Aedes aegyptimosquito, which successfully reduced the target mosquito population.
The project will be conducted in the West Bay area covering approximately 3,000 residents. There, Oxitec’s non-biting, male Friendly™ Aedes aegyptiwill be released along with traditional vector control activities so that the MRCU and Oxitec can assess effectiveness of this combined approach.The project will involve thorough monitoring for effectiveness and will be managed by a steering committee that includes Cayman government officials and Oxitec staff. Control activities will continue through December of 2018.
“We’re honoured that the Cayman government has asked us to extend our long-standing partnership,” said Grey Frandsen, CEO of Oxitec. “This is a chance for us to continue to work with one of the best mosquito control operations in the region to develop a new, integrated approach using Oxitec’s Friendly™ Aedes aegyptito combat this disease-spreading mosquito at precisely the right time. The threat this mosquito poses is expanding throughout the Caribbean, and our collaboration between the MRCU and Oxitec will help develop another tool that can be used in response to this threat,” said Frandsen.
Aedes aegyptiremains a public health concern in Grand Cayman. It has unfortunately also become resistant to many insecticides, adding to the challenges that make this non-native mosquito speciesdifficult to target with traditional methods of vector control.
More on how male-selecting Friendly™ Mosquitoes work
Oxitec has been working in mosquito control for over a decade and pioneered the use of a biological method to suppress wild populations of dangerous mosquito species through the release of male Friendly™ Mosquitoes, 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 either all progeny or specifically the female progeny to die before reaching adulthood, based on the strain of mosquito released. Friendly™ Mosquitoes offspring also inherit a fluorescent marker that allows tracking and monitoring at a level never before achieved, making the assessment of effectiveness more accuratethroughout the whole Friendly™Mosquitoes deployment program. Unlike other approaches, Friendly™ 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, on Facebook, and LinkedIn.
Safe Harbor Statement
Some of the statements made in this press release are forward-looking statements. These forward-looking statements are based upon our current expectations and projections about future events and generally relate to our plans, objectives and expectations for the development of our business. Although management believes that the plans and objectives reflected in or suggested by these forward-looking statements are reasonable, all forward-looking statements involve risks and uncertainties and actual future results may be materially different from the plans, objectives and expectations expressed in this press release.
For more information, contact:
Director of Global Communications
Tel: +1 (253) 678 0074