CAMPINAS, Brazil, June 3, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- Oxitec Ltd., a UK-based biotechnology company specializing in developing novel, environmentally-sustainable pest management solutions, today announced the successful completion of the first field trial in Brazil of its 2nd Generation Friendly™ Aedes aegypti technology. In partnership with the municipal vector control authorities in the city of Indaiatuba, the pilot project demonstrated the new strain's effectiveness in suppressing populations of the Aedes aegypti mosquito - the primary vector of dengue, Zika, chikungunya and yellow fever - in four densely populated urban communities across the city.
Releases of Oxitec's Friendly™ Aedes aegypti were conducted in four separate communities under approval issued by Brazil's national biosafety authority, CTNBio, during a year-long trial starting in May 2018. The trial was designed to test a number of performance features of the 2nd Generation Oxitec's Friendly™ Aedes aegypti technology, including the performance outcomes generated by the use of two different mosquito release rate levels in dense urban environments. Abundance of wild Aedes aegypti was monitored before and during the release program to allow for an accurate evaluation of the trial's impact. Wild Aedes aegypti numbers were kept at low levels throughout the high season in all treated neighborhoods, whereas populations in areas untreated by Oxitec's Friendly™ Aedes aegypti rose as normal.
Relative to the untreated control area, releases of Friendly™ male mosquitoes achieved1 an average of 89% peak suppression across two communities treated with a low release rate of mosquitoes and an average of 93% across two communities treated with a higher release rate. The optimal suppression observed was in one community wherein a 96% peak suppression with the high release rate over a four-week period was achieved.
"This trial was an excellent first demonstration of this new strain's future potential for new vector control approaches in urban settings most prone to dengue outbreaks. We achieved high levels of suppression even with lower release rates of our mosquitoes in relatively small sites in densely populated urban areas, which were subject to pressure from mosquitoes migrating in from neighboring communities not treated with Friendly™ mosquitoes," said Natalia Ferreira, Oxitec do Brasil Country Director.
The City of Indaiatuba's secretary of health, Dr. Graziela Garcia, said that "the collaboration between the city and Oxitec has been positive and transparent, and the suppression results in the areas that received Oxitec mosquitoes were excellent. We are pleased with the results and look forward to our continued partnership with Oxitec's team."
The 2nd Generation Friendly™ Aedes aegypti carries a self-limiting gene that prevents female offspring from surviving, allowing for male-only production. After releases of Friendly™ males into the field, which find and mate with wild female mosquitoes, reduction of the target population is achieved as the female offspring of these encounters cannot survive. Male progeny survive, carrying a copy of the self-limiting gene; in turn, these males are able to pass on the self-limiting gene to half of their offspring, of which female carriers of the gene cannot survive. The self-limiting gene can thereby persist but declines over time, offering potentially multiple but still self-limiting generations of suppression for every Oxitec Friendly™ Aedes aegypti male released. In addition to demonstrating this mosquito's suppression effect in the target areas, Oxitec ran a series of internal tests to evaluate the strain's features – including built-in male-only production - designed to improve cost-effectiveness relative to its 1st Generation predecessor and other similar technologies that require additional steps for separating males from females.
"Our team is very pleased with these initial trial results, as they demonstrate a self-limiting insect solution that is both highly-effective in dense urban settings and is capable of delivering features that will improve cost-effectiveness and scalability needed for larger-scale interventions without major factories or smaller-scale efforts managed by companies or citizens. We are now accelerating product development for scalable commercial solutions that can be used by anyone," said Grey Frandsen, CEO of Oxitec. "Once fully developed, we believe this will be the first technology capable of giving governments, commercial and consumer end-users, the power to deliver safe, effective Aedes aegypti control with an easy-to-deploy, cost-effective, and still self-limiting solution."
Oxitec anticipates advancing to additional field trials in Brazil in 2019 and 2020 that will evaluate the 2nd generation strain in other performance areas, including in small egg-based release devices and testing the strain's ability to reverse insecticide resistance to traditional control methods.
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 the University of Oxford (UK). Oxitec is a subsidiary of Intrexon Corporation (NASDAQ: XON), which engineers biology to help solve some of the world's biggest problems. Follow us on Twitter at @Oxitec.
About Intrexon Corporation
Intrexon Corporation (NASDAQ: XON) is Powering the Bioindustrial Revolution with Better DNA™ to create biologically-based products that improve the quality of life and the health of the planet through two operating units – Intrexon Health and Intrexon Bioengineering. Intrexon Health is focused on addressing unmet medical needs through a diverse spectrum of therapeutic modalities, including gene and cell therapies, microbial bioproduction, and regenerative medicine. Intrexon Bioengineering seeks to address global challenges across food, agriculture, environmental, and industrial fields by advancing biologically engineered solutions to improve sustainability and efficiency. Our integrated technology suite provides industrial-scale design and development of complex biological systems delivering unprecedented control, quality, function, and performance of living cells. We call our synthetic biology approach Better DNA®, and we invite you to discover more at www.dna.com or follow us on Twitter at @Intrexon, on Facebook, and LinkedIn.
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1 "Peak suppression" is measured using the highest sustained suppression over a four-week period in an Oxitec treated site when compared to a control site untreated by Oxitec mosquitoes for the same period of time. This measures the intervention's sustained suppression effect over time, which is a more accurate measure than selecting suppression results from a single day or week.
SOURCE Oxitec Ltd.