FDA OKs Field Trial of Genetically Engineered Mosquitoes to Stop Zika Virus

The United States will soon control the local population of Aedes aegypti mosquito, a vector of disease-causing microorganisms such the Zika virus, yellow fever virus, dengue virus, and chikungunya virus.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) pushed the greenlight for Oxitec to conduct a field trial of genetically engineered mosquitoes to stop the population of Aedes aegypti mosquito in Key Haven, Florida.

Zika Virus-Aedes Aegypti Mosquito

Field trial will not have significant environment impact

Today, the FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine (FDA-CVM) published its final findings of no significant impact (FONSI) and final environment assessment (EA) indicating its conclusion that a field trial of the genetically engineered mosquitoes  will not result to a significant impact on the environment.

According to the agency, its conclusion does not mean that Oxitec’s genetically modified mosquitoes are approved for commercial use. Oxitec and its local partner, Florida Keys Mosquito Control District are responsible for ensuring its compliance with the requirements of all local, state, and federal government before conducting the proposed field trial in Key Haven, Florida.

Oxitec proposed field trial is intended to determine the efficacy of its genetically engineered mosquitoes with self-limiting gene for the control of Aedes aegypti.

The company will release its male genetically engineered mosquitoes into the wild to mate female Aedes aegypti and their offspring die before reaching adulthood. The male Oxitec mosquitoes do not bite or spread disease.

Oxitec already conducted similar field trials in Brazil, Cayman Islands, and Panama and the results showed more than 90% reduction in the population of Aedes aegypti. The level of control is exceptional compared with using conventional methods such insecticides.

Oxitec CEO Hadyn Parry said, “We’ve been developing this approach for many years, and from these results we are convinced that our solution is both highly effective and has sound environmental credentials.”

“We’re delighted with the announcement today that the FDA, after their extensive review of our dossier and thousands of public comments for a trial in the Florida Keys, have published their final view that this will not have a significant impact on the environment. We are now looking forward to working with the community in the Florida Keys moving forward,” added Parry.

Florida reported 15 cases Zika virus infection from local mosquitoes

Federal and state health official in Florida reported that at least 15 people were infected with Zika virus from local mosquitoes. The cases were the first reported Zika virus infections transmitted by mosquitoes in the U.S.

Scientists at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) concluded that Zika virus can cause microcephaly and other fetal brain defects.

There are no FDA-approved vaccines/ treatments for Zika virus. However, there are several investigational vaccines that are under development including early human clinical trials.


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