Oxitec: Brazil approves general commercial release of Oxitec's GM mosquitoes
May 15, 2014
The National Technical Commission for Biosecurity (CTNBio), the collegiate body responsible for approval and regulation of transgenic organisms in Brazil, today approved the commercial release of the genetically modified (GM) mosquito, OX513A, developed by Oxitec. It is the first GM insect to be considered safe for commercial use in Brazil and the latest of a long series of biotechnology approvals by CTNBio.
The Oxitec mosquito, which can be used to control the dengue mosquito, Aedes aegypti, is a strain of the wild species that contains two additional genes. The Oxitec males (which cannot bite) are released to seek out and mate with the wild females. Their offspring inherit the additional genes and die before becoming functional adults. They also inherit a marker that is visible under a special light, making monitoring in the field simple and helping ensure that dengue mosquito control programmes succeed.
In several trials, successive releases of the Oxitec males have been shown to reduce substantially the wild population of dengue mosquitoes in the treated area.
“We are delighted that CTNBio have recognised the intrinsic safety and negligible environmental risk of Oxitec’s mosquitoes. As an innovative approach it is important to have such rigourous examination. In recent years our technology has been attracting a great deal of attention from dengue endemic countries worldwide and CTNBio’s technical opinion will be very helpful for other countries considering whether to evaluate this for their own circumstances. We feel that the beneficial environmental profile, coupled with excellent efficacy to date, make the Oxitec mosquito a valuable new tool for health authorities around the world to complement their existing efforts in tackling the mosquitoes that spread dengue fever”, said Hadyn Parry, CEO of Oxitec.
The mosquito Aedes aegypti is the main vector of dengue, a virus that infects an estimated 390 million people per year worldwide. Dengue, can cause a variety of symptoms including nausea, acute pain and fever. In the more serious cases it can develop into dengue haemorrhagic fever and can even lead to death. There is neither medication nor an approved vaccine for dengue. The dengue mosquito lives in and around the home and is known for being difficult to control. Conventional methods currently in use have shown themselves to be insufficient to prevent the spread of the disease.
About Oxitec Ltd
Oxitec is a pioneer in controlling insects that spread disease and damage crops. It was formed in 2002 as a ‘spin-out’ from Oxford University (England). Oxitec’s first products are for the control of Aedes aegypti, the mosquito species primarily responsible for transmitting dengue fever, and Mediterranean fruit fly, one of the world’s most damaging agricultural pests.