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 Cancer diagnosis: no more needles?
25.05.2018 | Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel

nachricht Less is more? Gene switch for healthy aging found
25.05.2018 | Leibniz-Institut für Alternsforschung - Fritz-Lipmann-Institut e.V. (FLI)

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Powerful IT security for the car of the future – research alliance develops new approaches

The more electronics steer, accelerate and brake cars, the more important it is to protect them against cyber-attacks. That is why 15 partners from industry and academia will work together over the next three years on new approaches to IT security in self-driving cars. The joint project goes by the name Security For Connected, Autonomous Cars (SecForCARs) and has funding of €7.2 million from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. Infineon is leading the project.

Vehicles already offer diverse communication interfaces and more and more automated functions, such as distance and lane-keeping assist systems. At the same...

Im Focus: Molecular switch will facilitate the development of pioneering electro-optical devices

A research team led by physicists at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has developed molecular nanoswitches that can be toggled between two structurally different states using an applied voltage. They can serve as the basis for a pioneering class of devices that could replace silicon-based components with organic molecules.

The development of new electronic technologies drives the incessant reduction of functional component sizes. In the context of an international collaborative...

Im Focus: LZH showcases laser material processing of tomorrow at the LASYS 2018

At the LASYS 2018, from June 5th to 7th, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) will be showcasing processes for the laser material processing of tomorrow in hall 4 at stand 4E75. With blown bomb shells the LZH will present first results of a research project on civil security.

At this year's LASYS, the LZH will exhibit light-based processes such as cutting, welding, ablation and structuring as well as additive manufacturing for...

Im Focus: Self-illuminating pixels for a new display generation

There are videos on the internet that can make one marvel at technology. For example, a smartphone is casually bent around the arm or a thin-film display is rolled in all directions and with almost every diameter. From the user's point of view, this looks fantastic. From a professional point of view, however, the question arises: Is that already possible?

At Display Week 2018, scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP will be demonstrating today’s technological possibilities and...

Im Focus: Explanation for puzzling quantum oscillations has been found

So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics

Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

In focus: Climate adapted plants

25.05.2018 | Event News

Save the date: Forum European Neuroscience – 07-11 July 2018 in Berlin, Germany

02.05.2018 | Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

In focus: Climate adapted plants

25.05.2018 | Event News

Flow probes from the 3D printer

25.05.2018 | Machine Engineering

Less is more? Gene switch for healthy aging found

25.05.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>