UC researcher develops masking agents to keep mosquitoes and insects at bay

RIVERSIDE – A process developed by a UC Riverside researcher to keep mosquitoes and other insects at bay might be turned into a commercial product, university officials said today.

OlFactory Laboratories Inc., a Riverside-based nanotechnology firm, signed an agreement with UCR for exclusive rights to utilize the insect repellent technology conceived by Anandasankar Ray, assistant professor in the university\’s Department of Entomology.

According to UCR, Ray discovered a means to prevent insects from detecting carbon dioxide, which is emitted by animals and humans during breathing. Mosquitoes, black flies and other winged insects can smell the emissions and hone in on their prey that way.

Ray\’s lab work pointed to the use of inexpensive chemicals that be applied to neutralize the olfactory neurons of insects so that they\’re unaware of a person\’s presence, according to UCR.

“This gives us the opportunity to develop new classes of masking agents that can prevent contact with … disease-carrying mosquitoes,\’\’ Ray said.

OlFactory Labs, a subsidiary of publicly traded investment firm Avisio Inc., believes the technology has profit potential and intends to raise “its current technical feasibility status to full commercialization,\’\’ said Chief Executive Officer Amro Albanna.

Craig Sheward, UCR\’s assistant vice chancellor for technology commercialization, said the university was excited about the partnership with OlFactory Labs.

“The company\’s ability to take this technology from the lab to a commercially viable product is of paramount importance as we move forward,\’\’ he said.

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