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Last Updated: Friday, 30 November 2007, 17:59 GMT
Global award for dengue control
Aedes mosquito (Photo: Oxitec)
About 50 million people become ill annually with dengue fever
An Oxford company has received a global award for a new technique to combat the mosquito which spreads dengue fever.

Oxitec Ltd is one of 39, selected from a field of 273, that have been named as Technology Pioneer 2008, the World Economic Forum has announced.

Using genetics and molecular biology, it has made male mosquitoes sterile.

Oxitec chief scientist Luke Alphey said this approach is cheaper and more effective than the traditional method of radiation therapy.

"This prize is an external validation of our technology and our business plan," Dr Alphey told the BBC.

"It is very useful when speaking with companies and governments because it is not just a technology which we think is okay but which an independent valuator says is okay."

Networking opportunity

The pioneers get to participate in the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2008 in Switzerland in January and in the Annual Meeting of the New Champions in China in September 2008.

"It's an opportunity of access for networking with the main participants in the World Economic Forum, heads of major corporations and heads of international agencies," he added.

The new technology has only been tested in the lab and the "extremely encouraging" results means that it will now move to field trials - possibly in south-east Asia, Central America, South America, and the Caribbean, he said.

The World Health Organization has estimated that 50 million people become ill with dengue fever each year.

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