Oxitec’s Gene Modified Mosquitoes Appear As Lone Mean To Fight Against Spread of Zika Virus

By Staff Writer

Jan 30, 2016 03:47 AM EST

Genetically modified mosquitoes have drawn urgent attention from US regulators and global health officials. Researchers are planning to use the gene modified mosquitoes in combating against the spread of the pathogens.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is reviewing an application since received from Intrexon Corp.'s Oxitec unit. If FDA Okays, Oxitec will conduct afield trial in the Florida Keys. Detail about the timing of the FDA decision hasn't been revealed from Oxitec's behalf, reports Bloomberg quoting Hadyn Parry, Chief Executive Officer for the Intrexon subsidiary.

Oxitec has become successful in genetically modifying the males to die young, in a mosquito genre naming Aedes Aegypti. This particular genre is responsible for transmitting Zika, Chikungunya, Dengue and Yellow Fever.

WHO has cautioned on Thursday that the Zika virus is being spread explosively in South and Central America. Drug makers and health makers, on the contrary, have warned that developing a vaccine may take even a decade.

The Zika virus is held responsible for steep increase in abnormally shrinking babies' heads in some Central American countries, especially in Brazil. It also causes Guillain- Barré syndrome, a nervous system disorder that sometimes results in paralysis. The spikes in Zika cases have prompted the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to bar the pregnant women from travelling to infected areas, reports CBS News.

WHO is going to hold an emergency meeting on Monday following forecast on probable spread to all countries in the North America except for Canada and Chile. So far, the virus has been reported to spread in 23 countries.

WHO has been described to get concerned about the evolving situation due to four core reasons. The association of infection with birth malformations and related neurological syndromes has been cited as the first reason. The potential for further international spread given the wide geographical distribution of the mosquito vector appears to be the second reason.

The lack of population immunity among the inhabitants of the newly affected areas has been recognized as the third reason. The absence of vaccines, specific treatments and rapid diagnostic methodologies stands as the fourth reason, according to a report published in the Zero Hedge citing a WHO statement as the source.

Oxitec is also waiting for final clearance from the Ministry of Health in Brazil to authorize the sale of mosquitoes to the local authorities and private operators. The female mosquitoes are capable of producing 500,000 eggs in a month. Since they are easily transportable, so securing a large population through the genetically modified mosquitoes is very much possible.

Oxitec, an Intrexon subsidiary has been awarded permission from Brazil's Biosecurity Commission to produce genetically modified mosquitoes in 2014. The recent spread of Zika virus has provided Oxitec an opportunity to sale the gene engineered mosquitoes to the local authorities of the Zika infected areas. FDA in the US and Health Ministry of Brazil are considering Oxitec's proposal, as the lone available mean to combat spreading of Zika infections.

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