ABOUT THE TECHNOLOGY
With about 198 million cases and 584,000 deaths just in 2013, malaria has been and continues to be a prominent health concern all over the world. In some areas, the method of defense against the vector, Anopheles gambiae, is profoundly limited. For example, many of those in sub-Saharan Africa rely on insecticide-treated nets (ITNs) as their only protection. ITNs have the potential to reduce malaria transmission by 50%. However, only one class of approved insecticides, pyrethroids, is routinely used on ITNs. With the recent dramatic increase of pyrethroid resistance, there is a demand for an alternative insecticide. In fact, pyrethoid resistance now exceeds 1,000-fold.
Carbamates are currently used to control agricultural pests and disease vectors in areas where human contact is unlikely. These compounds inhibit acetylcholinesterase (AchE) in both insects and humans, inflicting safety concerns, and are therefore not used on ITNs. Researchers at Virginia Tech have effectively identified classes of carbamates that have high selectivity for Anopheles gambiae AChE (AgAChE) over human AchE (MdAChE).
These compounds, which consist of phenyl N-methyl carbamates, show selection towards the inhibition of AgAChE relative to MdAChE. Thus, these carbamates are toxic to mosquitoes but not to humans and they can be safely used to target Anopheles gambiae in close proximity to humans. Particularly, these carbamates can be used as an alternative insecticide for ITNs, providing a solution as pyrethroid resistance continues to increase.
U.S. patents 8,129,428 and 8,618,162 have been issued for this invention and are available for licensing.