Dawalwadi (Jalna), India, and Oxford, UK, January 23rd, 2017 – Gangabishan Bhikulal Investment and Trading Limited (GBIT) and Oxitec announced today the launch of the Friendly™ Aedes project in Dawalwadi, India. Outdoor caged trials of Oxitec’s Friendly™ Aedes mosquito have been initiated to demonstrate the efficacy of the Friendly™ mosquitoes in suppressing the local Aedes aegypti population.
The announcement comes following the inauguration of the field cage facility by Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, Director General of the Indian Council of Medical Research. Following these cage trials, GBIT and Oxitec plan to conduct open field trials of the Friendly™ mosquitoes, pending approval from the Indian regulatory authorities.
Mr. Shirish Barwale, Director, GBIT said “Increasing cases of dengue and chikungunya have been reported in recent years. Presently available methods have not been effective against these public health hazards. We are very optimistic that this pioneering technology from Oxitec will help us to control the mosquito responsible for spreading these diseases.”
Dengue and chikungunya have a devastating effect on Indian citizens every year, and India is in need of new tools to fight the invasive Aedes aegypti mosquito, which is the primary vector for disease-causing viruses such as dengue, chikungunya, Zika, and yellow fever.
Recently published work estimated that dengue alone infects almost 5.8 million people in India annually, and the total financial cost of the disease is estimated at over $1 billion per year. Additionally, in 2016, cities including Delhi saw severe outbreaks of chikungunya.
Given the challenges with Aedes aegypti in India, GBIT and Oxitec established a partnership in 2011 and have conducted successful laboratory-based studies demonstrating the compatibility of Oxitec’s mosquitoes with the local population of this damaging mosquito species.
Oxitec’s technology represents a paradigm shift in mosquito control with unparalleled results. In conjunction with independent collaborators, Oxitec has conducted five open field trials of its self-limiting mosquitoes in Brazil, Panama and the Cayman Islands. Each of these trials led to a greater than 90% reduction of the wild Aedes aegypti population, a level of suppression far in excess of conventional approaches.
Oxitec’s innovative and environmentally-friendly solution is currently being deployed in Piracicaba, Brazil and the Cayman Islands. Notably, the public support for these projects has been strong in these areas. Surveys show that 69% of the residents of Grand Cayman and 92.8% of Piracicaba’s citizens supported the use of Oxitec’s solution.
First photo: Director General of the Indian Council of Medical Research, Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, inaugurating the GBIT field cage facility at Dawalwadi, Jalna, India. Alongside Dr. Swaminathan is Mr. Shirish Barwale, Director of GBIT.
Second photo (left to right): Mr. Shirish Barwale (Director, GBIT); Dr. Usha Zehr (Chief Technical Officer, GBIT); Dr. Kevin Gorman (Science Affairs Manager, Oxitec); Dr. Soumya Swaminathan (Director General, Indian Council of Medical Research); Dr. B. R. Barwale (Director, GBIT); Dr. Raju Barwale (Director, GBIT); Dr. S. K. Dasgupta (Project Lead, GBIT).
GBIT is a privately held Indian company that specializes in developing and commercializing novel technologies in health and agriculture. Its mission is to bring in environmentally friendly technologies that can have a significant impact on health and agricultural productivity in the country, especially in the control of vector insects of human diseases like dengue / chikungunya / malaria and pest / insects of agriculture importance.
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.
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