Oxford, UK, 13 April 2016 - The National Health Surveillance Agency of Brazil (Anvisa) announced yesterday they would grant a special temporary registration (RET, Registro Especial Temporário) to Oxitec to deploy its genetically engineered mosquito, OX513A, known as Friendly Aedes aegypti, throughout the country.
Oxitec’s biological approach to control the spread of the Aedes aegypti mosquito, the primary vector for transmitting dengue, Zika and chikungunya viruses to humans, was approved by National Technical Biosafety Commission (CTNBio) in 2014. However at that time, Anvisa did not yet have legislation in place to regulate this innovative class of vector control technology. With the guidance issued, Anvisa is elaborating new rules to provide Brazil with a regulatory framework that is able to deal with this and any similar products that may be developed.
In the interim Anvisa will grant Oxitec the freedom to use Friendly Aedes aegypti in projects across the country. This should assist the development of the product within Brazil so that it can be used as part of programs designed to fight Aedes aegypti, the dangerous vector of dengue, chikungunya and Zika.
Recently recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) for deployment in operational conditions, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) also just declared it will provide technical support for countries that wish to implement OX513A, Oxitec’s Friendly Aedes aegypti in the fight against this menacing mosquito.
In five separate efficacy trials across Brazil, Panama, and the Cayman Islands, releases of Friendly Aedes aegypti were able to reduce the local populations of wild Aedes aegypti by over 90% in each of the targeted areas. In Piracicaba, Brazil, preliminary results have shown a reduction of 82% in Aedes aegypti wild larvae in the area treated with Friendly Aedes aegypti, compared to the non-treated area.
How Friendly Aedes aegypti works
Oxitec has been focused on the control of Aedes aegypti for over a decade and pioneered a biological method to suppress wild populations of this dangerous mosquito species. The Friendly Aedes aegypti mosquitoes are males which do not bite or transmit disease. When released, they search for and mate with wild Aedes aegypti females. Their progeny inherit a self-limiting gene and die before becoming functional adults. Additionally, Friendly Aedes aegypti progeny inherit a fluorescent marker that enables an unprecedented level of traceability for accurate monitoring and evaluation of efficacy during the course of a control program. Importantly, unlike some other approaches, Oxitec’s solution leaves no environmental footprint -- the released mosquitoes and their offspring die so they do not persist in the ecosystem.
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.
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