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Agriculture Biomass Technology

How the humble grapefruit could help combat the Zika virus.

How the humble grapefruit could help combat the Zika virus.Nootkatone may only be a name familiar name to a few but this citrus ingredient could soon be making a big difference to the lives of many. Thanks to research from the US Center for Disease Control (CDC), nootkatone has been found to both repel and kill the yellow fever mosquito,the main mosquito vector responsible for the spread of Zika virus and the black-legged tickwhich transmits Lyme disease.

And now Evolva a global pioneer in sustainable, fermentation-based approaches to ingredients are teaming up with the CDC to research further nootkatones effectiveness against some of the world’s most damaging diseases.

Nootkatoneis a citrus ingredient that is characteristically associated with grapefruit. It can be extracted in minute quantities from the skin of grapefruit or the bark of the Alaska yellow cedar (also known as theNootka cypress), or produced on an industrial scale from brewing via yeast fermentation.

Evolva and the CDC are partners in the co-development of insect control products containing nootkatone based onEvolva fermentation technology. Nootkatone has potential for use against some of the most important arthropod vectors of human pathogens, includingIxodestick vectors of Lyme disease andAedesmosquito vectors of chikungunya, dengue, and Zika viruses.

Evolva (@EvolvaTweets)is currently performing all necessary safety and efficacy studies to get nootkatoneapproved by the US Environmental Protection Agency initially as a repellent against the blacklegged tick, mosquitos and other target insects in the USA. Evolva is also investigating other geographies.

Evolva began assessing nootkatones ability to repel and/or kill theAedes aegyptimosquito, the main mosquito vector responsible for the spread of Zika virus, when the global public health community, led by the World Health Organisation (WHO), sounded the alarm about the spread and impact of Zika virus. TheWHO has since declared Zika virus a global public health emergency. Preliminary studies on nootktatone have been conducted in the US and Europe. Further confirmatory studies will soon be underway in the US.

Nootkatone appears to have a mode of action distinct from that of currently used pesticides and therefore could potentially be valuable for mitigating pesticide resistance in mosquito vectors. Nootkatone already occurs in the natural environment and has an established track record as a flavor and fragrance ingredient, providing attractive characteristics in a number of respects.

In addition to the ticks that transmit Lyme disease, we believe that nootkatone could play an important role in the global response to the spread of Zika virus, said Evolva CEONeil Goldsmith. We look forward to an expanded partnership with US government health authorities.

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