Hello blog readers! I am on my way to attend the BIO World Congress on Industrial Biotechnology happening now in San Diego. Since there’s wifi on Delta, I might as well take the opportunity to blog.
Switzerland-based biotechnology company, Evolva has been busy churning news announcements lately with the recent one about the completion of its joint collaboration with the US Navy on the development, validation and potential commercialization of new lightweight, fire-resistant composite materials.
Applications of these advanced materials include aircraft, waterborne craft, fabrics, armoured vehicles, and construction materials. These next-generation composite materials are based on a molecule that can be manufactured on an industrial scale using advanced biotechnology and fermentation, and then polymerized and shaped/moulded using standard fabrication techniques.
If successful, this project would create for the US Navy novel composite materials that are fire resistant, stronger and lighter than aluminum, and capable of withstanding high temperatures. These materials would also be more sustainably sourced, less expensive, and offer a number of other advantages over existing composites.
Evolva also recently announced a licensing agreement with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that grants Evolva the exclusive worldwide patent rights to develop and commercialize nootkatone for the control of a wide range of disease and virus vectors such as ticks, mosquitoes, fleas, flies, lice, bed bugs, and other biting insects. Evolva announced just recently that it is expanding its nootkatone research focus to include the mosquitoes that transmit Zika and other viruses.
This expanded focus is included in the comprehensive Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) now in place between Evolva and the CDC. The World Health Organization (WHO) recently declared Zika virus a global public health emergency. Nootkatone could play an important role in the global response to the spread of Zika.
According to Evolva, the CDC research has shown nootkatone both repels and kills the yellow fever mosquito, Aedes aegypti, and the black-legged tick, Ixodes scapularis which transmits Lyme disease. 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. Nootkatone can be extracted in minute quantities from the skin of grapefruit or the bark of the Alaska yellow cedar (also known as the Nootka cypress), or produced on an industrial scale from brewing via yeast fermentation.
Evolva is currently performing all necessary safety and efficacy studies to get nootkatone approved by the US Environmental Protection Agency, initially as a repellent against the blacklegged tick.
If memory serves me correctly, Evolva acquired the nootkatone and other biotechnology-based flavors and fragrances ingredients from the former San Diego, California-based Allylix, a privately-held yeast fermentation company, in 2014.