With constant news topping the headlines about the Zika virus, a synthetic biology company out of Oxford England, Oxitec, has been getting some good press. For over ten years now, Oxitec has been developing their genetically engineered mosquitos as a way to lower virus spreading mosquito populations.
When we last talked to Oxitec's CEO, Hadyn Parry, a couple years ago, they were just introducing their genetically engineered mosquitos into a small rural town in Brazil. They've now had trials in the Cayman Islands and Panama as well and received phenomenal results.
“In all of the trials, we’ve got the same result, which is that we’ve controlled the Aeges Aegypti population in a town by over 90 percent,” says Hadyn in today’s interview.
Is the recent panic over the Zika virus helping out the synthetic biology company in terms of PR and regulatory hurdles? And what threat has CRISPR, the new gene editing technology, posed for the company, both in terms of the backlash in media against gene editing and also in lowering the barrier to entry for competitors?
Hadyn says he has always embraced the PR issue head on, and is now giving 2-3 interviews some days. Does he have any suggestions for other synthetic biology companies who also face uphill PR battles?