Insects pose a major threat to man. Many diseases are spread by insects such as mosquitoes that transmit malaria, dengue fever and yellow fever. In agriculture, insects cause damage to crop yields and quality and cause significant financial loss.
Despite technical advances over the last 50 years, the danger is actually on the increase. Resistance to insecticides is growing and for some diseases (dengue fever, for example) there is neither medication nor vaccine. There is an urgent need for a new approach to complement the best existing practice.
Based on technology developed by molecular biologist Dr Luke Alphey and colleagues at Oxford University's Department of Zoology, Oxitec offers a new solution. Their approach is to breed and release sterile males of the damage-causing species. This highly targeted form of biological control is safe to other species, causes no lasting impact on the environment and is cost effective.