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Expert Meeting Discusses Testing of Oxitec Transgenic Mosquitoes in Panama
Date:5/21/2012

PANAMA CITY, Panama, May 21, 2012 /PRNewswire/ --

International scientific and government experts held a forum on 16 May 2012 to discuss the potential use of Oxitec's genetically modified Aedes aegypti mosquitoes as a tool to combat Dengue Fever in Panama.

The independent forum was co-organised by the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI), The Gorgas Memorial Institute for Health Studies and the University of Panama. This brought together national and regional experts from these institutes as well as the Pan American Health Organisation, Panama's Ministry of Health and Oxitec. It was held in order to bring all parties together and address issues raised by pressure groups in a closed meeting in March.  These groups were invited to participate in the Smithsonian forum but did not attend.

The Gorgas Memorial Institute for Health Studies (GMI) is a medical research institution that, for more than 80 years, has been dedicated to investigating diseases in the tropics and preventive medicine. The Institute is named after Dr. William Crawford Gorgas, who is credited with eradicating yellow fever in Panama, a disease spread by the same mosquito, Aedes aegypti, that now spreads Dengue Fever.  As a pioneer in disease prevention GMI is seeking to evaluate Oxitec's approach to combat the dengue mosquito in Panama. The Gorgas initiative was publicised last year in an open forum attended by the Health Minister Dr. Franklin Vergara. The Smithsonian conference was the latest in a series of events, which has also included TV and newspaper coverage and community meetings, designed to engage and inform the public, media and officials in Panama about Oxitec's solution.

At the forum Dr Luke Alphey, Oxitec's Chief Scientific Officer, explained how Oxitec's genetically modified Dengue mosquito can offer an effective, sustainable approach to controlling the Dengue mosquito in Panama. Dr Alphey said:

"We are very grateful
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