Oxitec’s malaria control program targets two mosquito vectors of malaria that pose major challenges to the international community’s regional malaria eradication goals. Anopheles stephensi is the dominant vector of malaria in South Asia and the Middle East. Around 2012, it invaded Djiboutiin the Horn of Africawhere it caused a massive increase in the incidence of malaria in the capital – it was estimated that more than 10% of the country’s population was infected in 2018. The ability of this species to reproduce in urban communities sets it apart from others mosquitoes carry malaria, and as it spreads, experts are warning of disastrous outbreaks of malaria in African cities.
Anopheles albimanus is the most important vector of malaria in central America and parts of South America. Progress has been made in achieving regional malaria eradication – El Salvador was certified malaria-free in 2021 – but efforts have stalled in many other parts of the region, new vector control tools are needed to regain momentum towards this regional goal. To like A. stephensi, A. albimanus is largely resistant to insecticides and stings easily outdoors, reducing the effectiveness of mosquito nets and other prevention tools indoors.
Oxitec’s safe technology uses non-biting, self-limiting male mosquitoes to suppress disease-spreading pests, and in over a decade of multiple deployments has achieved >90% suppression of pest populations. Aedes aegypti, a dangerous mosquito that spreads dengue fever and other diseases. Friendly™ insects are target specific, non-toxic and self-limiting in the environment.
To apply this technology against mosquitoes that spread malaria, a team of dedicated Oxitec experts from more than 10 countries spent nearly four years leading early development and innovation with support from the Gates Foundation. Now, with the launch of this new three-year pilot phase, the Oxitec team will partner with regional and community experts to conduct field pilots of the Friendly™ solution targeting these two important vectors. In parallel, Oxitec will advance the development of innovative methods of production, distribution and deployment of Friendly™ mosquitoes to be tested in pilot sites, in order to provide scalable and accessible Friendly™ solutions in regions where malaria is endemic. The locations of these pilots will be announced in the coming months.
Gray Frandsen, CEO of Oxitecsaid, “This investment in expanding our malaria program will allow us to build the partnerships, systems and programs needed to pilot our technologies where they are needed most, bringing them one step closer to the world. impact on lives and livelihoods. We couldn’t be more grateful to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the multinational, multidisciplinary team that came together around this effort.”
Neil MorrisonDirector of Oxitec’s Malaria Programadded, “We look forward to working with expert partners, regulators, regional stakeholders and, most importantly, communities affected by malaria to develop and validate these two new Friendly™ mosquitoes. As we have shown with our successes against other disease-spreading mosquitoes, Friendly™ mosquitoes unlock new levels of vector control performance with no impact on humans, animals or the environment.”
Oxitec is the leading developer of biological solutions to control pests that transmit disease, destroy crops and harm livestock. Founded in 2002 in University of OxfordOxitec is led by a passionate team made up of 15 nationalities and is supported by world-class public, private and associative partners.
Learn more about oxitec.com.
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