The results of collective US trials by Australian ag-tech development company Bio-Gene Technology (ASX: BGT) have confirmed the natural compound product Flavocide can control the Anopheles gambiae mosquito species which carries malaria and is increasingly resistant to commonly-used sprays.
Conducted at Purdue University’s world-leading entomology faculty which specialises in vector control, the trials showed that mosquitoes landing on a surface treated or coated with Flavocide were knocked down instantly.
Separate tarsal (foot) assay studies also helped identify compounds which may be effective for use in insecticide-treated bed nets and indoor residual sprays – widely considered the most effective means of controlling malaria mosquitoes.
At least 700 million insecticide-treated bed nets have been distributed in Africa this millennium.
Bio-Gene chief executive officer Richard Jagger said the findings signify a potential breakthrough in future mosquito treatment.
“These results provide [us] with an opportunity to impact how the world manages the increasing threat of these vector borne diseases,” he said.
“We look forward to presenting these data to key stakeholders in the field of vector control globally in order to help bring this technology to market.”
Disease-carrying mosquitoes have proven to be increasingly resistant to synthetic pyrethroids – the insecticide class commonly used since the 1970s as a control mechanism.
Bio-Gene’s trials demonstrate Flavocide can be active against resistant populations of major species that carry diseases such as malaria, Zika virus and dengue fever.
Flavocide is an insecticide (a nature identical molecule) based on a natural compound found in Australia’s eucalypt trees, which is rapidly toxic to adult mosquitos through body or foot contact.
Its ingredients are believed to have a reduced impact on non-target species and is up to 5,000 times safer to bees by oral ingestion compared to other chemical products – notably neonicotinoids – which are generally associated with bee toxicity.
Mr Jagger said the product is among the next generation of insecticides developed to address global problems of insecticide resistance and toxicity.
According to World Health Organisation figures, more than half the world’s population is currently at risk from vector-borne diseases, while globally there are more than 200 million cases of malaria.
More than 400,000 people die from the disease every year, most of them children under the age of five.
Zika virus has been declared a global health emergency, and death due to dengue fever has increased by a multiple of 30 in the last 50 years.
In 2017, the organisation reported that collectively, mosquito-borne diseases such as malaria, dengue and Zika cause over 700,000 deaths every year and are known to exacerbate poverty and prevent economic development.
The effectiveness of currently-used insecticides is diminishing due to mosquito resistance and Flavocide has been identified as a potential new product to address the issue.