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University Research Leads to Non-Toxic Insect Repellant

Hand holding Kite patch


Research by an entomology professor at University of California in Riverside led to a company licensing his discoveries that announced its first product, a non-toxic patch that repels mosquitoes for 48 hours. Olfactor Laboratories, a company co-founded by and licensing the research of Anandasankar Ray, makes the Kite mosquito patch, which yesterday started a crowd-funding campaign to finance its development.

Ray’s research identified three types of odor molecules that impair or disrupt the ability of mosquitoes to detect carbon dioxide (CO2) exhaled by humans. Mosquitoes use carbon dioxide to find humans to bite and spread diseases, such as malaria, dengue, and West Nile virus. Ray tested his findings both in the lab and in simulated field tests in Africa, with results showing the ability of the molecules to disable the mosquitoes’ detection of CO2, inhibit their CO2 receptors, and imitate CO2 to develop lures and traps away from humans.

The Kite is a small — 1.5 inch square — patch worn on clothing, infused in low concentrations with the compounds identified in Ray’s lab — that the company says are safe for humans — to repel mosquitoes for 48 hours. The compounds, such as hexanol and butanal, inhibit the carbon dioxide receptor in mosquitoes and other insects. Other compounds in the patch activate the mosquitoes’ carbon sensing neurons to such an extent they create a spike in the response that overwhelms their ability to detect CO2 for several minutes at a time.

In 2010, Ray and others founded Olfactor Laboratories, also in Riverside, to which the university’s technology transfer office licensed the intellectual property from Ray’s lab for development. The company was started and has since developed as part of the ieCrowd incubator and investment platform. The Kite patch is Olfactor Laboratories’s first product.

Yesterday, Olfactor Laboratories and ieCrowd launched a crowd-funding campaign on Indiegogo that aims to raise $75,000 for the Kite’s development. The campaign ends on 29 August.

In the following video, Ray tells more about the research on mosquito disruption.

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