Oxitec announced on Thursday that the National Technical Commission for Biosecurity approved the commercial release of its genetically modified mosquito in Brazil to control dengue fever.
The Oxitec mosquito is a strain of the wild Aedes aegypti species that was modified to contain two additional genes. The added genes cause mosquitoes to die before they become functional adults.
The male mosquitoes are released to mate with wild female mosquitoes and pass the genes to their offspring. The genetically modified mosquitoes have a marker that is visible with a special light, which will aid field monitoring and help ensure the mosquito control programs are successful.
"In recent years, our technology has been attracting a great deal of attention from dengue endemic countries worldwide and CTNBio's technical opinion will be very helpful for other countries considering whether to evaluate this for their own circumstances," Oxitec CEO Hadyn Parry said. "We feel that the beneficial environmental profile, coupled with excellent efficacy to date, make the Oxitec mosquito a valuable new tool for health authorities around the world to complement their existing efforts in tackling the mosquitoes that spread dengue fever."
The A. aegypti mosquito is the main vector of dengue, and is known for being difficult to control. In several trials, the Oxitec males have proved to significantly reduce the wild population of dengue mosquitoes.