Oxitec and GBIT announce launch of Friendly™ Aedes Project in India

Dawalwadi (Jalna), India; –January 23, 2017:
Oxitec and Gangabishan Bhikulal Investment and Trading Limited (GBIT) announced today the launch of their Friendly™ Aedes project in Dawalwadi, Jalna District of Maharashtra in India. The outdoor caged trials of Oxitec’s Friendly™ Aedes mosquito will initially be conducted to demonstrate the efficacy of Oxitec’s mosquito to suppress the local Aedes aegypti population. Following the caged trials, Oxitec and GBIT plan to conduct local open field trials of Oxitec’s mosquitoes, pending approval from the Indian regulatory authorities.
The announcement comes following the inauguration of the field cage facility by Dr Soumya Swaminathan, Director General of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).
Dr Usha Zehr, Chief Technology Officer, GBIT, said, “There has been an increased incidence of dengue and chikungunya cases in the country and the present available solutions are not effective in combating these diseases. This novel and safe technology has shown immense potential in other countries and the results have been encouraging. We believe the technology will help in effective management of dengue and chikungunya cases in India as well.
Oxitec and GBIT established a partnership in 2011. Since then, they have conducted successful laboratory-based studies that demonstrated Oxitec’s mosquitoes are compatible with the local Aedes aegypti population.
India is in need of new tools to fight the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which transmits viruses including dengue, chikungunya, Zika and yellow fever.
These diseases have a devastating effect on Indian citizens every year. Recent published work estimated that dengue alone may infect almost 5.8 million people in India annually, and the total financial cost of the disease is over $1 billion per year. In 2016, cities including Delhi also saw severe outbreaks of chikungunya.
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 trial led to a greater than 90% reduction of the wild Aedes aegypti population, a level of suppression far in excess of conventional approaches.
This 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 conducted in mid-2016 show that 69% of the residents of Grand Cayman and 88% of Piracicaba’s citizens supported the use of Oxitec’s solution.

About GBIT
GBIT is a privately held Indian company that has access to expertise in the mass rearing and commercialisation of genetically modified organisms in the Indian Sub-continent. For more information on GBIT, please visit http://gbitindia.com/
About Oxitec
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.