Monday 18 March, 2019

Joint Oxitec-MRCU 2018 research project ends

The joint research collaboration between the Mosquito Research and Control Unit (MRCU) and bio-technology company Oxitec came to an end on  January 23, 2019.

While field operations ceased on 21 December 2018, which was at the end of the high mosquito season, MRCU and Oxitec spent another month collating data based on several months of work. A joint steering committee continues to work on a final evaluation. 

Noting that MRCU and Oxitec have a history of collaboration that goes back more than a decade, MRCU Director Jim McNelly, PhD says the working relationship between the two parties remains positive and collaborative. Dr McNelly adds that both parties benefitted from the close partnership.

The project was designed to learn over a 35-week period how to combine traditional mosquito control approaches with Oxitec’s OX513A self-limiting mosquito to best combat the Aedes aegypti mosquito. Through its bite the dangerous insect transmits dengue, Zika and chikungunya.

Both the research project, which took place in two small sections of West Bay,  and its scientific protocol were jointly managed by the joint steering committee which is comprised of representatives from the Cayman Islands Government and Oxitec.

A project evaluation is underway that will assess various data types and lessons for the purposes of informing future interventions involving combined methodology. The steering committee is committed to sharing with the public its findings from the project, which are expected in the second quarter of 2019.

Oxitec CEO Grey Frandsen emphasises that the objective of this project was to improve scientific understanding of how to enhance future control efforts using Oxitec’s mosquitoes and MRCU’s traditional control methods.

While no work is currently planned for 2019, Mr Frandsen adds, MRCU and Oxitec will continue to discuss potential control programs in the future and will maintain their positive relationship going forward. MRCU will also continue to include Oxitec’s mosquito technology among a list of potential tools that it may deploy in the future to combat Aedes aegypti mosquitoes.

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