Researchers at the Grupo Avance laboratory in Chile have developed a substance which may be capable of repelling the Aedes aegypti mosquito and interrupting its reproductive cycle, helping to reduce the transmission of the Zika virus and dengue fever. According to reports, biochemist Mario Reyes created a compound which he says could be added to detergent for washing clothes, and this way would protect individuals from being bitten by the mosquito.
Reyes said of his creation that the compound was not planned, but came about by joining elements used in other experiments at the Grupo Avance laboratories in the north of Santiago. These elements in the mix include graphene, a substance which prevents the mosquito from passing through a substance, copper powder, an anti-bacterial, and lactone, a natural non-toxic insecticide. By adding this special mix to detergent in a simple clothes wash, an individual could be protected from the mosquito for up to a day.
"It came from the idea of looking for an alternative which could be used, but not as an ordinary, common repellant. Multiple applications are required and with these multiple applications we can see adverse reactions on users. Also, the person who forgets to apply it then coverage is immediately lowered. With this it's like putting on a halo because it emits this components, specifically lactone, which allows for stability but does not destroy clothes of daily use," said medical toxicologist, Laura Borgel.
In order to lay its eggs, the female mosquito needs the blood of a mammal. If the number of mosquito bites is significantly reduced, therefore, the mosquito population could be prevented from reproducing. Researchers believe if this "biological barrier" was used on a wide scale, it could significantly stem the proliferation of the mosquito, responsible for carrying chikungunya, dengue and Zika, which the World Health Organisation (WHO) said on February 1 had caused an international health emergency.
The substance must undergo further testing before being approved for public use but researchers say it could be ready for the market immediately.