RIVERSIDE (CBS) — A Riverside-based nanotechnology firm opened a research facility on Friday where experiments are expected to focus on better ways to keep mosquitoes at bay and, by doing so, prevent the spread of disease.
OlFactor Laboratories’ San Bernardino lab will be used to test mosquito-abatement methods patented by researchers at UC Riverside.
KNX 1070’s Bob Brill reports
Earlier this year, the company, a subsidiary of publicly traded Avisio Inc. — a technology commercialization firm — won exclusive rights to utilize chemical components that UCR researchers showed could be used to disorient mosquitoes or prevent them from zeroing in on their favorite prey — human beings.
“We are very excited about the opening of our new laboratory because the testing that we conduct there will lay the foundation for the commercialization of new mosquito control technologies that could help control
the spread of West Nile virus, Dengue Fever, malaria and other mosquito-borne diseases,” said OlFactor Labs President Steve Abbott.
The chemical cocktails conceived by UCR researchers can mimic the carbon dioxide emitted by humans, which attracts mosquitoes, according to OlFactor Labs.
Current methods of snaring the insects include burning propane or allowing huge quantities of ice to evaporate, producing CO2 that mosquitoes home in on. But the OlFactor chemical process would be cheaper and more environmentally friendly, according to the company.
“Over millions of years, mosquitoes have evolved to detect carbon dioxide to find animals to feed on,” said OlFactor Labs Chief Scientific Officer Anand Ray. “But by using a blend of odors that blocks the mosquitoes’
CO2 receptors, we can mask areas of our choosing from a mosquito’s perception.”
Another chemical application that originated at UCR and is being tested by OlFactor Labs can throw off mosquitoes’ ability to detect CO2 altogether, according to company officials.
They emphasized that the bloodsuckers can build up a tolerance to insecticides that make spraying to eradicate mosquito populations futile after a while.
“Part of what we’re trying to do is showcase the fact that we can take an idea and build a business around it and get it going,” said Abbott. “We’re also trying to hammer home the fact that research in Inland Southern California can be used to combat…tropical diseases around the world.”
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