Last updated on April 18, 2014 at 17:24 EDT

Expert Meeting Discusses Testing of Oxitec Transgenic Mosquitoes in Panama

May 21, 2012

PANAMA CITY, Panama, May 21, 2012 /PRNewswire/ –

International scientific and government experts held a forum on 16 May 2012 to discuss
the potential use of Oxitec’s genetically modified Aedes aegypti mosquitoes as a tool to
combat Dengue Fever in Panama.

The independent forum was co-organised by the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute
(STRI), The Gorgas Memorial Institute for Health Studies and the University of Panama.
This brought together national and regional experts from these institutes as well as the
Pan American Health Organisation, Panama’s Ministry of Health and Oxitec. It was held in
order to bring all parties together and address issues raised by pressure groups in a
closed meeting in March. These groups were invited to participate in the Smithsonian forum
but did not attend.

The Gorgas Memorial Institute for Health Studies (GMI) is a medical research
institution that, for more than 80 years, has been dedicated to investigating diseases in
the tropics and preventive medicine. The Institute is named after Dr. William Crawford
Gorgas, who is credited with eradicating yellow fever in Panama, a disease spread by the
same mosquito, Aedes aegypti, that now spreads Dengue Fever. As a pioneer in disease
prevention GMI is seeking to evaluate Oxitec’s approach to combat the dengue mosquito in
Panama. The Gorgas initiative was publicised last year in an open forum attended by the
Health Minister Dr. Franklin Vergara. The Smithsonian conference was the latest in a
series of events, which has also included TV and newspaper coverage and community
meetings, designed to engage and inform the public, media and officials in Panama about
Oxitec’s solution.

At the forum Dr Luke Alphey, Oxitec’s Chief Scientific Officer, explained how Oxitec’s
genetically modified Dengue mosquito can offer an effective, sustainable approach to
controlling the Dengue mosquito in Panama. Dr Alphey said:

“We are very grateful to the Smithsonian for taking the initiative and hosting this
meeting. Dengue fever is a serious problem in Panama and the Oxitec ‘birth control for
insects’ approach offers a potential solution. As with any new technology, there are
important questions to be discussed, and we are always happy to listen and respond to
those questions. Today’s meeting, together with the number of local community meetings
that we have participated in, has provided a useful forum for us to do just that.”

Dengue Fever is a growing global health challenge, infecting between 50-100 million
people every year. The incidence and severity of this disease has increased steadily in
the Americas and the Caribbean during recent years. During 2011, Panama registered 3,882
Dengue cases which resulted in 16 deaths and large expenses for the public health sector.

Nestor Sosa, Director of the Gorgas Commemorative Institute for Health Studies
(GCIHS), said:

“Available information suggests that the Oxitec approach is an effective and safe tool
for mosquito control. Therefore the GCIHS, in collaboration with the British company
Oxitec Ltd, have initiated the process required to study the genetically modified
mosquitoes in Panama.”

Notes to editors:

A joint release from the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, The Gorgas Memorial
Institute for Health Studies and the University of Panama

http://us1.campaign-archive1.com/joint release
[http://us1.campaign-archive1.com/?u=3d86541f7c9ec1a3ef6483b16&id=1993e6ed5f&e=d66448bbe5 ]

About Oxitec (http://www.oxitec.com [
C:\Users\Hadyn.Parry\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\Temporary Internet
Files\Content.Outlook\QORKRP8J\www.oxitec.com ])

Oxitec is developing and commercialising an effective and environment-friendly
proprietary technology for the control of significant insect pests. Oxitec’s technology
has the potential to make a major contribution to both global health and agriculture by
combating insects responsible for serious diseases such as Dengue Fever as well as
agricultural damage. The proprietary technology builds on inventions from the University
of Oxford and employs genetics and molecular biology to enhance the existing radiation
based Sterile Insect Technique (SIT), and to extend the control method to a broader range
of insect pests.

About Dengue

Dengue is the most common mosquito-borne viral disease of humans that in recent years
has become a major international public health concern. Globally, 2.5 billion people live
in areas where Dengue viruses can be transmitted. The geographical spread of the mosquito
vector, Aedes aegypti, has led to the global resurgence of epidemic Dengue Fever in the
past 25 years and an increase in the more severe forms of the disease such as Dengue
haemorrhagic fever and Dengue shock syndrome. There is neither medication nor vaccine
currently available for Dengue.


Source: PR Newswire