Press Release: City of Piracicaba and Oxitec do Brasil begin releases of ‘Friendly Aedes aegypti’

May 6, 2015

Oxford, UK, 30th April 2015

Genetically modified mosquitoes aim to reduce the dengue vector population in CECAP / Eldorado neighbourhood

Oxitec do Brasil and the City of Piracicaba today started the second phase of the ‘Friendly Aedes aegypti’ Project to combat the mosquito that transmits dengue and chikungunya. The project aims to significantly reduce the population of this mosquito in the treatment area, which is within the CECAP and Eldorado neighbourhoods.

“This moment marks a new phase for Oxitec do Brasil. Over the next ten months we will be releasing the ‘Friendly Aedes aegypti’ and, at the end of this process, we expect to have significantly decreased the population of the mosquito that transmits dengue and chikungunya in comparison with the control area, helping to protect people’s health,” said Glen Slade, manager of Oxitec do Brasil.

The releases of the ‘Friendly Aedes aegypti’ begin after 60 days of explaining to the residents of Piracicaba what the ‘Friendly Aedes aegypti’ is and how it works. According to Piracicaba’s municipal Secretary of Health, Pedro Mello, “During this period, municipal health workers and the Oxitec team visited a good proportion of the homes in CECAP / Eldorado talking about the ‘Friendly Aedes aegypti’ and reinforcing the importance of people continuing to eliminate breeding sites, keep their houses clean and follow the guidance of the municipal officials to avoid the proliferation of the mosquito that transmits dengue and chikungunya.”

The fruits of this work can already be seen in the massive public support for the ‘Friendly Aedes aegypti’ Project. Research by CW7 Research Institute shows that 92.7% of Piracicaba citizens support the use of innovative tools to combat dengue and 88.5% support the use of the ‘Friendly Aedes aegypti’. “We are very happy with these numbers and we are on the right track to fight the mosquito that transmits dengue and chikungunya by adding a new technology to the intense work already done by the municipality,” said mayor of Piracicaba, Gabriel Ferrato.

The engagement work, however, continues. “In the coming weeks we will set up our information tent in CECAP / Eldorado. It is important that we continue this work to respond to any concerns of the population because, after the start of releases, new questions may arise,” said Guilherme Trivellato, manager of the ‘Friendly Aedes aegypti’ Project.

The ‘Friendly Aedes aegypti’ Project aims to further optimise the deployment of the solution created by Oxitec. The project will firstly be implemented in an area of 54 hectares, equivalent to more than 65 football fields, in CECAP / Eldorado, a neighbourhood in the Eastern region of the city with the highest number of dengue cases in early 2015. About five thousand people live in the treatment area.

About Oxitec do Brasil

Oxitec do Brasil is a subsidiary of Oxitec Limited, a pioneer in using genetic engineering to control insects that spread disease and damage crops, founded in 2002 as a spin out from Oxford University (UK). Oxitec do Brasil has a production unit in Campinas, in the state of São Paulo, with an initial production capacity of 2 million ‘Friendly Aedes aegypti’ per week.

The technology developed by Oxitec produces genetically modified insects, whose males can mate with wild females to produce offspring that die before adulthood. This technology is an evolution of the Sterile Insect Technique (SIT), which has been used successfully for more than 50 years. SIT uses irradiation to sterilise male insects to control or even eliminate pest insect populations.

Oxitec’s first products are for the control of Aedes aegypti, the mosquito species primarily responsible for transmitting dengue fever and chikungunya, and Mediterranean fruit fly, one of the world’s most damaging agricultural pests.

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Press contact:

Glen Slade

+44 (0) 1235 832393