OXFORD, England, July 11, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- Oxitec Ltd., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Intrexon Corporation (NYSE: XON), today announced Oxitec do Brasil has signed a contract to launch the Friendly™ Aedes Project in Juiz de Fora, Brazil. Juiz de Fora becomes the second Brazilian municipality and the first city in Minas Gerais state to deploy innovative Friendly™ Aedes in the fight against dangerous Aedes aegypti mosquitoes - the primary vector of dengue, Zika, chikungunya and yellow fever.
"Expansion of our bio-based solution into a second state within Brazil is an important step as we seek to significantly lower the population of the primary vector of many dangerous arboviruses - Aedes aegypti - across the entire country. Minas Gerais has been particularly impacted by transmission of diseases through mosquitoes and we are enthusiastic to tackle this task head on and help protect its residents," said Dr. Mark Carnegie-Brown, Chief Executive Officer of Oxitec.
Minas Gerais is the second most populous state with an estimated 20 million residents and ranks among the largest by gross domestic product according to The Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE). Minas Gerais also had the largest number of arboviruses cases in Brazil during 2016 according to Brazilian Ministry of Health.
"Our goal is to protect the residents of Juiz de Fora by achieving a significant reduction in the amount of the mosquitoes that transmit these diseases in the chosen neighborhoods," says Jorge Espanha, Oxitec do Brasil's director-general. Oxitec will establish an outpost in Juiz de Fora, which will receive Friendly™ pupae reared in the company's factory in Piracicaba. The pupae will be reared to adult mosquitoes and then released in epidemiologically strategic spots.
The Friendly™ Aedes Project will be implemented first covering an area of 10,000 residents in select neighborhoods within Monte Castelo, Santa Luzia and Vila Olavo Costa, which were chosen because of the high prevalence of dengue. In 2016 there were over 1,600 dengue cases in these areas with 925 reported in Santa Luzia, 564 in Monte Castelo and 152 in Vila Olavo Costa. Subsequently deployment will be expanded to protect 50,000 residents within Juiz de Fora.
"Now's the time for Juiz de Fora to use this innovative and environmentally friendly technology, which will help us change the game against Aedes. Our work with the tools currently listed by the Health Ministry's protocol will keep going on, but the arrival of Friendly™ Aedes will allow us to dramatically reduce the mosquito's presence where this technology will be used. Where there are no mosquitoes, the diseases they spreads are noticeably reduced," explains Beth Jucá, health secretary of Juiz de Fora.
In Brazil, Oxitec is a real example of how an innovative solution can achieve excellent results when integrated into a city's ongoing vector-control programs, along with the support from affected communities. In Piracicaba, located in upstate São Paulo, Oxitec began its first large-scale release of Friendly™ Aedes in 2015. During the first year of releases in Piracicaba's CECAP/Eldorado neighborhood, Friendly™ Aedes suppressed the wild larvae population of Aedes aegypti by 82% in the treated area versus the non-treated area. In the second year, an 81% reduction was achieved with 59% fewer Friendly™ Aedes mosquitoes released than the year prior. This is evidence of the strength and durability of Oxitec's solution.
Additionally, in Piracicaba's São Judas District - where Friendly™ Aedes were released for the first time in mid-2016 - the Aedes aegypti wild larvae population was reduced 78% in just six months in comparison to the non-treated area.
How Friendly™ Aedes works
Oxitec has been working in Aedes aegypti control for over a decade and pioneered the use of a biological method to suppress wild populations of this dangerous mosquito species through the release of Friendly™ Aedes males, 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 them to die before reaching functional adulthood. Friendly™ Aedes' offspring also inherit a fluorescent marker that allows tracking and monitoring at a level never before achieved, making the assessment of effectiveness more accurate throughout the whole Friendly™ Aedes deployment program. Unlike other approaches, Friendly™ Aedes 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.
About Intrexon Corporation
Intrexon Corporation (NYSE: 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. The Company's integrated technology suite provides its partners across diverse markets with 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 http://www.dna.com or follow us on Twitter at @Intrexon, on Facebook, and LinkedIn.
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