Crop Biotech Update

India Launches Friendly™ Aedes Project to Combat Vector Borne Diseases

January 25, 2017

India's Gangabishan Bhikulal Investment and Trading Limited (GBIT) and Oxitec announced the launch of the Friendly™ Aedes project to combat the menace of vector borne diseases including malaria, dengue, and chikungunya. India recently initiated the outdoor caged trials of Oxitec's Friendly™ Aedes mosquitoes to demonstrate the efficacy of the Friendly™ mosquitoes in suppressing the local Aedes aegypti population.

Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, Director General of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and Secretary of Department of Health Research inaugurated the outdoor cage trial facility at Dawalwadi, Jalna, Maharashtra to conduct open field trials of the Friendly™ mosquitoes, which are pending approval from the Indian regulatory authorities.

"Increasing cases of dengue and chikungunya have been reported in recent years. Presently available methods have not been effective against these public health hazards. We are very optimistic that this pioneering technology from Oxitec will help us to control the mosquito responsible for spreading these diseases," alluded Mr. Shirish Barwale, Director of GBIT.

Dengue and chikungunya have a devastating effect on Indian citizens every year, and India is in need of new tools to fight the invasive A. aegypti mosquito, which is the primary vector for disease-causing viruses such as dengue, chikungunya, Zika, and yellow fever. Recently published work estimated that dengue alone infects almost 5.8 million people in India annually, and the total financial cost of the disease is estimated at over $1 billion per year. Additionally, in 2016, cities including Delhi saw severe outbreaks of chikungunya.

For more details, read the news release from Oxitec.