SBIR Phase I: Enlisting Adult Mosquitoes to Combat Mosquito-Borne Diseases

Period of Performance: 01/15/2017 - 12/31/2017

$225K

Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Isca Technologies, Inc.
RIVERSIDE, CA 92507
Firm POC, Principal Investigator

Abstract

The broader impact/commercial potential of this Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project will be to develop an effective new mosquito control product that works against both adult and immature vectors, drastically reducing the size of the vector population without reliance on conventional insecticides. It will consist of two components: a potent plant-derived attractant to lure adult vector mosquitoes and an insect development disruptor that locks larvae in a permanent state of immaturity, eventually resulting in death, and also renders exposed adults infertile. This product will reduce the impacts of mosquito-borne illnesses around the world, and reduce environmental contamination by cover sprays of hazardous conventional pesticides. This strategy could revolutionize area-wide mosquito control programs: by inducing a large proportion of mosquitoes within the target population to act as their own delivery mechanism for the control agent, the proposed product substantially increases the effective size of the treated area, making it operationally viable to effectively treat every larval habitat and adult resting site, even in urban areas with an overwhelming abundance of potential habitats. Because this product attracts and contaminates all key species of mosquitoes, it will become an invaluable tool for the $16B/yr global vector control market. The technical objectives in this Phase I project are designed to demonstrate feasibility of an auto-dissemination strategy to control mosquito populations via three mechanisms: 1) exposure to the formulation containing the disruptor sterilizes adults; 2) larval breeding sites contaminated by the disruptor during adult visits will produce no viable offspring; and 3) the disruptor passed between adults during interactions (mating) increases the proportion of sterile individuals in the population and unproductive larval habitats in the treated area. By manipulating mosquitoes to deliver the control agent to their own offspring and restricting the reproductive capacity of the adult population, this project will help to overcome the long historical prejudice in favor of adult-targeting chemical insecticides by demonstrating that larval-targeted measures can be used to suppress vector populations at reasonable cost, renewing scientific and commercial interest in such alternative strategies. To demonstrate feasibility of this approach, Phase I research will focus on evaluating the effects of the formulation on vector mosquitoes when exposure occurs through contact and/or ingestion; determining the capacity of female mosquitoes to deliver the formulation to larval habitats; and finally, demonstrating the efficacy of the proposed auto-dissemination strategy in reducing vector populations in an endemic field setting.