AN OXFORDSHIRE tech company has won permission to release millions of genetically-engineered mosquitoes over Florida.

Oxitec, based at Milton Park, has even trademarked its man-made 'Friendly' mosquitoes.

The company hopes that they might one day be able to eradicate deadly Zika virus and other diseases in huge parts of the world.

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The Aedes aegypti mosquito is an invasive species found throughout the world and spreads dengue, Zika, chikungunya and yellow fever.

Scientists say it poses an increasing threat, and this year there have been localised outbreaks of dengue in the Florida Keys.

The scientists at Oxitec have genetically created special 'dud' male mosquitoes in a lab.

These males, when they mate with females, produce offspring which die before they reach adulthood, which can wipe out huge populations.

The firm has been planning to run a real-world trial of its Frankenstein insects in Florida for years, but this week announced that it had finally won permission from nine US government agencies.

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The engineered insects pose no risk to humans.

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates there are 390 million dengue infections per year, with approximately half of the world’s population at risk.

The number of dengue cases reported to the WHO has increased more than 15-fold during the past two decades.

If Oxitec's trial in Florida is successful, it could pave the way for releasing more of the dud males in virus hotspots around the world, and save countless live.