WEST BAY, Grand Cayman, May 23, 2018 /PRNewswire/ --
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
New integrated approach to test benefits of combining novel and traditional methods in pursuit of dramatic suppression
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 aegypti mosquitoes 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 aegypti continues 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 aegypti from 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's self-limiting Friendly™ Aedes aegypti mosquito, 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 aegypti will 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 aegypti to 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 aegypti remains 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 species difficult 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 accurate throughout 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.
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SOURCE Oxitec Ltd