This new biotech insect repellent smells like juice

August 13, 2020
We don’t know about you, but we think the mosquitoes are especially bad this year. Luckily, biotech has developed a new ingredient for insect repellent—and it’s safe, effective, AND smells like grapefruit. We’ve got the details, plus a closer look at the BIOEquality…
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We don’t know about you, but we think the mosquitoes are especially bad this year. Luckily, biotech has developed a new ingredient for insect repellent—and it’s safe, effective, AND smells like grapefruit. We’ve got the details, plus a closer look at the BIOEquality Agenda and what we’re doing to improve diversity in clinical trials and the industry, in around 820 words, 4 minutes.

ICYMI, check out Dr. Michelle McMurry-Heath’s appearance on the TODAY Show yesterday. And also, her appearance on RoomRater—a respectable 8/10! (Editors note: We like your couch, Michelle! Be sure to weigh in on Twitter.)

This new biotech insect repellent smells like juice

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved a new ingredient for use in insect repellents—yet another example of how biotech innovation is using nature to solve environmental challenges. 

Meet nootkatone. The ingredient is found naturally in grapefruit skin and Alaska yellow cedar trees, and it’s responsible for grapefruit’s signature citrus scent. 

It repels and kills ticks, mosquitoes, and other biting insects. “Studies show that when nootkatone is formulated into insect repellents, they may protect from bites at similar rates as products with other active ingredients already available and can provide up to several hours of protection,” said the EPA

In fact, it's so safe, it's used by the food and cosmetic industries for citrus flavor and scent, says The New York Times.

And it’s all thanks to biotech. BIO member Evolva has worked to advance the development and commercialization of nootkatone, with a Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) grant.

Why it matters: “The number of reported cases of mosquito- and tickborne diseases doubled from 2004 to 2018. Tickborne diseases represent almost 8 in 10 of all reported vector-borne disease cases in the U.S. Increasing risk from these diseases means increasing demands on federal, state, and local health departments and vector control agencies,” explained the EPA. “Having a new effective ingredient for insecticide available will assist in addressing the growing levels of insecticide-resistance to other products currently in use.”

What they’re saying: “NootkaShield™ is another example of our innovative power. At Evolva we’ll continue to develop new solutions that address customer and consumers’ needs around the world and can contribute to health and wellbeing,” said Oliver Walker, CEO of Evolva.

Are you developing a biotech solution in the agriculture and environment space? Nominate your company to be the Buzz of BIO at BIO IMPACT Digital next month! But hurry, because you have to enter by tomorrow, August 14.

 

More Agriculture and Environment News: 

The Age: Alpacas provide new hope for a COVID-19 cure
“Camelids, a species that includes alpacas, llamas, and camels, produce two types of antibodies, one similar to human antibodies and the other dramatically smaller, called a nanobody.”

 
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“I really see science as a social justice issue.”

That’s what BIO President and CEO Dr. Michelle McMurry-Heath said in a wide-ranging interview with Scrip/Pink Sheet, in which she discussed how BIO is driving diversity and inclusion within the industry and in health care. A few highlights below.

ICYMI, last week we launched the BIOEquality Agenda, an action plan to find solutions to inequitable health care delivery and eliminate economic, nutritional, and environmental disparities.

The agenda focuses on three big goals:

  • Promoting health equity
  • Investing in the current and next generation of scientists
  • Expanding opportunities for underrepresented populations 

In addition to driving greater diversity within the industry, BIO is also working to improve access to new cures. “We see what questions are arising across the spectrum of large and small companies about how to ensure access to both COVID vaccines and therapeutics,” explained Dr. McMurry-Heath. “Of those 700 projects, 70% of them are in small companies, so it's not just the big company players that have to be involved in this conversation, and BIO is the one place that brings that full spectrum together.” 

To overcome the distrust of the medical community from minority groups and encourage people to enroll in clinical trials, there must be “a two-way dialogue,” she said. Organizations need to form “long-term relationships with minority communities, so that they’re not just going to talk to the community the first time they have a study.” This includes partnerships between companies and “minority-serving institutions, like historically black colleges, and academic medical centers that are more oriented towards serving diverse patient populations.”

There’s much more work to do—but companies are already stepping up. As just one example, BIO member Bristol Myers Squibb committed $300 million to address these issues, including clinical trial diversity and greater Black/African American and Hispanic/Latinx representation at all levels of the company.

Dr. Michelle’s Diagnosis: I really see science as a social justice issue. We spend a lot of time in this country talking about co-pays for certain drugs and bringing down the cost for an individual medication, but we don’t talk about how cutting-edge medical research has the ability to unlock many of the things that keep communities in poverty—access to nutritious foods, access to clean air and water, medicines that actually work and free people from the symptoms that impact their ability to earn a living and take care of their children. Anything that blocks communities—vulnerable communities—from having access to that scientific research perpetuates injustice. BIO President and CEO Dr. Michelle McMurry-Heath  

Read the whole thing (with a subscription).

Learn more about the BIOEquality Agenda.

And be sure to watch Dr. McMurry-Heath on yesterday’s BWHI-NCBW webinar with CNN's Suzanne Malveaux.

More Health Care News:

Reuters: Vir Biotech to begin mid-to-late stage study of COVID-19 drug candidate in August
“The company’s therapy candidate, VIR-7831, is a monoclonal antibody that binds itself to the SARS-CoV-2 live virus and neutralizes it.”

 
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I am BIO

Meet Andrew: Fighting the Opioid Epidemic

I am BIO: Meet Andrew

If you’re prescribed opioids, you have a 3 in 10 chance of becoming addicted.

Andrew Tran, a high school student in Virginia, didn’t want his friends and loved ones to fall victim to this fate. 

He developed a drug delivery platform that uses biological parameters to assess patient pain and deliver controlled drug doses, which was a finalist in the 2020 BioGENEius Challenge.

“The point of life for me is to improve the lives of others,” he says. “I can do that with biotechnology.”

Visit www.bio.org/iambio to learn more and share your story!

 
 
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President Trump’s Thursday: No public events. A press briefing is scheduled for 1:00 PM ET.

What’s Happening on Capitol Hill: Coronavirus aid negotiations remain stalled, with “no sign of the stalemate easing,” says Bloomberg.

 
 
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