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 A Map of the Cell’s Power Station
18.08.2017 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau

nachricht On the way to developing a new active ingredient against chronic infections
18.08.2017 | Deutsches Zentrum für Infektionsforschung

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Fizzy soda water could be key to clean manufacture of flat wonder material: Graphene

Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.

As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...

Im Focus: Exotic quantum states made from light: Physicists create optical “wells” for a super-photon

Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.

Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...

Im Focus: Circular RNA linked to brain function

For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.

While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...

Im Focus: RAVAN CubeSat measures Earth's outgoing energy

An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.

The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...

Im Focus: Scientists shine new light on the “other high temperature superconductor”

A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Call for Papers – ICNFT 2018, 5th International Conference on New Forming Technology

16.08.2017 | Event News

Sustainability is the business model of tomorrow

04.08.2017 | Event News

Clash of Realities 2017: Registration now open. International Conference at TH Köln

26.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

A Map of the Cell’s Power Station

18.08.2017 | Life Sciences

Engineering team images tiny quasicrystals as they form

18.08.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Researchers printed graphene-like materials with inkjet

18.08.2017 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>