LONDON, April 19, 2012 /CNW/ - Oxitec, a British company with a new approach to combating the dengue mosquito, Aedes aegypti, has today launched a new educational film, 'Controlling the Dengue Mosquito - the Oxitec Solution'. The film, which uses clay animation, or 'claymation', is intended to improve the clarity, accessibility and transparency of Oxitec's work and research.
Dr Paul Reiter, Professor of Medical Entomology at the Pasteur Institute, who features in the film, said that the academic community "doesn't always do a good job addressing the many questions asked of it" and that failing to communicate effectively "can lead to unease about a new approach."
Dengue fever is a serious, and rapidly growing global Public Health problem. The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that between 50 and 100 million people are infected with the dengue virus every year, and thousands die. Unlike Malaria the disease is principally spread by a single species of mosquito, Aedes aegypti. It is for this reason that Oxitec, as CEO Haydn Parry explains, is first deploying its approach on the Dengue mosquito as it has the potential "to impact on global public health right now."
"The problem is an urgent one: In the past three decades the global spread of dengue fever has been spectacular yet it is clear that none of the currently used control methods are effective. That is why we need to improve understanding of the disease, how it is spread and how the Oxitec solution works," said Parry.
In addressing real concerns that new technologies are not well understood Oxitec was "inspired to think more creatively about how we communicate and engage people with complex science, which is why we chose clay animation," said Mr Parry. "This way everyone is given the opportunity to understand and evaluate what we do."
Clay is an unusual choice for a biotechnology firm but Oxitec believe it is an effective vehicle to engage audiences and deliver their message. Michael Mort of Immortal Pictures, the Bafta award winning claymation artist who built the characters Haedes and Aegypta, also said the project was a very different experience for him, "clay creatures are what I do but I've never been asked to build a mosquito couple before!"
As part of their communications effort Oxitec is also launching new branding and a revamped website.
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Oxitec is developing and commercialising an effective and environment-friendly proprietary technology for the control of significant insect pests. Oxitec's technology has the potential to make a major contribution for both global health and agriculture by combating insects responsible for serious diseases such as dengue fever as well as agricultural damage. The proprietary technology builds on inventions from the University of Oxford and employs genetics and molecular biology to enhance the existing radiation based Sterile Insect Technique (SIT), and to extend the control method to a broader range of insect pests.
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