Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

NC State Scientist Discovers Mosquito Repellent in Tomatoes

11.06.2002


A substance produced by tomatoes repels mosquitoes and other insects more effectively and is safer than DEET, the chemical most commonly used in insect repellents, a North Carolina State University scientist has discovered.



Indeed, work by Dr. Michael Roe, William Neal Reynolds Distinguished Professor of Entomology at NC State, showed that the natural compound found in tomatoes is so effective at repelling insects that the university patented the substance. The patent describes how the substance may be used to repel insects.

The university has since licensed the right to produce the substance as an insect repellent to Insect Biotechnology Inc., a Durham company that specializes in developing and marketing biochemical insecticides. Funding for the research was provided in part by the National Science Foundation (NSF), the N.C. Biotechnology Center, the N.C. Agricultural Research Service, and Insect Biotechnology. Roe’s research was also supported by university overhead receipts.


Roe and Insect Biotechnology Inc. officials believe the substance, which Insect Biotechnology is calling IBI-246, has the potential to replace DEET as the active ingredient in most insect repellents.

"People have been looking for a competitive product to DEET for 20 years," said Dr. John Bennett, chairman and CEO of Insect Biotechnology. "I think this is it."

DEET (short for N, N-diethyl-meta-toluamide) is a widely used chemical. The U.S. Department of Agriculture developed DEET for the Army in 1946. The federal Environmental Protection Agency has registered approximately 230 products containing DEET, and EPA estimates that one -third of the U.S. population uses DEET each year.

While the EPA has found that the normal use of DEET does not present a health concern to the general population, the use of products containing DEET has been associated with rashes, swelling and itching, eye irritation and, less frequently, slurred speech, confusion and seizures. Products with high concentrations of DEET are considered hazardous to children particularly, and the EPA no longer allows claims on labels of products containing DEET that the product is safe for children.

Recent research at Duke University with rats showed that frequent and prolonged use of DEET caused brain-cell death and behavioral changes in the animals.

Roe said that like DEET, IBI-246 repels insects effectively and, on the scale used by the EPA to gauge toxicity, is considered slightly safer. He said he discovered the repellent capacity of IBI-246 by accident.

"I was listening to a scientific presentation about protein mimics as a diet pill for the control of mosquito larvae," Roe said. He realized that the compounds being discussed were similar to a compound found in wild tomatoes that Roe and another NC State entomologist, Dr. George Kennedy, also a William Neal Reynolds Distinguished Professor, had studied a number of years earlier.

Roe and Kennedy had studied the compound, which apparently is part of the tomato’s natural defenses against insects, to see if it might be used to control worms that eat tomatoes.

Roe revisited the compound and tested it as a mosquito repellent.

He found that it not only repelled mosquitoes, but ticks as well. Bennett said subsequent testing has shown that the substance also repels fleas, cockroaches, ants and biting flies, as well as insects that are agricultural pests such as aphids and thrips.

Roe said the compound is already used to make cosmetics, so its toxicity has already been studied.

"What this means is that the toxicology has been done, which is a big step toward commercialization," Roe said. "It’s found in tomatoes, it’s natural, it can be obtained organically, it’s safe and it’s at least as effective as DEET, all features that the public would want for a new-generation insect repellent."

Roe added, "With the concern about West Nile virus and Lyme disease - spread by mosquitoes and ticks, respectively - in the U.S. and with the threat of other diseases like malaria outside the United States, people need the personal protection of insect repellents. And what about the nuisance factor of mosquitoes, ticks and flies?"


Bennett added that the cost of producing IBI-246 is expected to be competitive to the production cost of DEET.

Bennett said Insect Biotechnology has applied to the EPA for approval to use IBI-246 as an insect repellent in several products. While it is impossible to tell how long the approval process will take, Bennett said he is hopeful IBI-246 will win EPA approval by the end of the year.

Dr. Michael Roe | EurekAlert

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht How brains surrender to sleep
23.06.2017 | IMP - Forschungsinstitut für Molekulare Pathologie GmbH

nachricht A new technique isolates neuronal activity during memory consolidation
22.06.2017 | Spanish National Research Council (CSIC)

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Quantum thermometer or optical refrigerator?

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

A 100-year-old physics problem has been solved at EPFL

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Equipping form with function

23.06.2017 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>