Intrexon (XON) Announces Florida Request for Emergency Authorization to Combat Mosquitoes
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Intrexon Corporation (NYSE: XON), a leader in the engineering and industrialization of biology to improve the quality of life and health of the planet, today reports a bipartisan coalition of 61 Florida House members led by Speaker-designate Richard Corcoran and Democratic Leader-designate Janet Cruz have issued a letter urging the U.S. Federal Government to take proactive steps including Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) to allow Florida's state and local governments to use Oxitec's genetically engineered Friendly™ Aedes to suppress Aedes aegypti mosquitoes that transmit Zika, chikungunya, dengue and other dangerous viruses to humans.
The letter from Mr. Corcoran, Ms. Cruz, and other House representatives to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Sylvia Matthews Burwell and U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Robert M. Califf, MD, expresses concerns about delaying Florida's access to Oxitec's Friendly™ Aedes technology, stating that such a delay "presents an unnecessary health risk" to the people of Florida, which could result in "the loss of human life". The letter urges HHS and FDA to grant an EUA under their applicable authorities to make the Oxitec technology "immediately available in any Florida area where Zika is being transmitted or likely to be transmitted", and it also notes that this authority has been used ten times to make Zika diagnostic tests publicly available.
Hadyn Parry, CEO of Oxitec stated, "We are confident the FDA, HHS and other government agencies will do everything within their power to ensure the safety of the American people, including making available novel vector control technologies, such as our Friendly™ Aedes solution, as appropriate. If an EUA or another method allows for our Friendly™ Aedes solution to be deployed, we're prepared to work with federal, state and local health officials to help all communities that require it in order to address this public health emergency."
In another bi-partisan letter sent late August by House Representative Chris Sprowls and the elected leadership of Pinellas County, Florida, to HHS Secretary Burwell, the representatives of the nearly one million residents stated they wanted to ensure the county has every tool at its disposal to combat a potential spread of the Zika virus. They also specifically requested that an EUA be issued to allow the county to utilize Oxitec's Friendly™ Aedes mosquitoes.
Both letters acknowledged the final finding of no significant impact on the environment from the FDA in August for a proposed field trial in Monroe County, and also highlighted trials in Brazil, Panama, and the Cayman Islands that resulted in significant decreases of greater than 90% in local Aedes aegypti populations. Additionally deployment of Friendly™ Aedes in Piracicaba, Brazil resulted in a 91% drop in dengue fever cases in its first year of release.
The Aedes aegypti mosquito is a primary vector for debilitating human viral diseases, including Zika, dengue, and chikungunya. While these arboviruses can all lead to a number of neurological disorders including Guillain-Barré syndrome, Zika is unique in at least three respects: it can lead to microcephaly in infants, it can be sexually transmitted, and it has the highest rate of asymptomatic disease among these damaging viruses with approximately 80% of infected people not showing symptoms as compared to roughly 50% for dengue and estimates of 3% - 28% for chikungunya.
Oxitec's bio-based, toxin-free approach to control disease-carrying mosquito populations utilizes Friendly™ Aedes male mosquitoes, which do not bite and therefore do not transmit disease, and genetically engineers them to carry a self-limiting gene. After successfully mating with a wild female, Friendly™ Aedes offspring will not survive driving down the local mosquito populations. Additionally the males released die within four to seven days resulting in a proprietary non-persisting, environmentally-friendly solution of mosquito control. Oxitec is already supplying its Friendly™ Aedes solution in the municipality of Piracicaba, Brazil and in the Cayman Islands.
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