Oxitec to Develop 2nd Friendly™ Mosquito Strain Designed to Combat Malaria-Spreading Mosquitoes
OXFORD, England, October 18, 2018 /PRNewswire/ --
Expanded collaboration with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will leverage Oxitec's Friendly™ biological engineering platform to develop a self-limiting Anopheles stephensi strain to help combat malaria in India, Middle East and the Horn of Africa
Oxitec's 2nd generation technology is designed to primarily reduce pest populations and as a secondary benefit may help reverse insecticide resistance in pest insects, unlocking additional value from traditional pesticides that are losing effectiveness
Oxitec Ltd. ("Oxitec"), UK-based biotechnology company and wholly owned subsidiary of Intrexon Corporation (NASDAQ: XON), today announced that it is expanding its collaboration with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation ("Gates Foundation") to develop a self-limiting mosquito strain to combat the Anopheles stephensi mosquito that transmits malaria in South Asia, the Middle East and the Horn of Africa using its 2nd generation Friendly™ Mosquito technology. Oxitec and the Gates Foundation entered into a partnership earlier this year to develop a Friendly™ strain that is intended to suppress populations of the malaria-transmitting Anopheles albimanus vector in parts of the Western Hemisphere.
Oxitec has developed a powerful biological engineering platform that can be used to develop a range of self-limiting insects, including Oxitec's Friendly™ Mosquitoes that have been tested and deployed around the world to suppress the disease-transmitting Aedes aegypti mosquito. Oxitec's Friendly™ insects are designed to significantly reduce the population of a targeted pest species in a way that is safe for humans and the environment.
"This expanded collaboration with the Gates Foundation will help develop yet another potentially powerful vector control tool in the global fight against malaria. This additional program will allow for the simultaneous development of two self-limiting mosquito strains targeted at two critical malaria vectors," said Grey Frandsen, CEO of Oxitec. "By developing these mosquito strains together, we will generate economies of scale, thereby accelerating how quickly we can advance these two new Friendly™ Mosquito strains to the field where they can have a real impact."
In addition to pest population suppression, Oxitec's 2nd generation Friendly™ technology introduces a new secondary benefit not seen in any other technology - the potential ability to reverse insecticide resistance in wild-type insect populations that have become resistant to traditional pesticides. Oxitec's technology introduces susceptible genes into the environment via the surviving male offspring, thereby diluting existing resistance in established wild pest populations.
Anopheles stephensi and Anopheles albimanus are malaria vectors that represent a threat to billions of people globally, including in India. Current tools and treatments are insufficient to achieve malaria suppression in many countries, and malaria vectors and parasites have begun to develop resistance to insecticides, which is likely to only intensify in the future.
"Traditional approaches to combating malaria are not working. New approaches are needed, which is why we are developing new technologies that can be used as stand-alone solutions and as part of integrated pest management programs in tandem with traditional control methods," said Simon Warner, Chief Science Officer at Oxitec. "In particular, we are very excited about the potential impact our 2nd generation insects will have on the growing threat of insecticide resistance, as our technology can re-introduce susceptibility amongst populations that have developed resistance to pesticides. This is a big advancement and a unique benefit of Oxitec's 2nd generation technology that we and our collaborators have already shown works in agricultural pests. We are excited to apply the same principle again," said Warner.
More on how male-selecting Friendly™ Mosquitoes work
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