Ginkgo Bioworks, medical dermatology company Azitra, Inc., Florida International University (FIU) and Latham BioPharm Group have received an order from the Agency for Advanced Defense Research Projects (DARPA) for up to 15 million US dollars as part of their ReVector program. Dollars received. This program aims to maintain the health of military personnel in regions severely affected by mosquito-borne diseases. The team plans to develop a new type of mosquito repellent based on the skin microbiome.
The combined team plans to use the skin microbiome to develop a living biotherapeutic product (LBP) that can block human chemical signals that attract the mosquitoes while repelling the insects.
Mosquito-borne diseases like malaria and Zika virus cause over a million deaths worldwide. The program aims to protect military personnel working in regions severely affected by mosquito-borne diseases.
Research shows that certain microbial species in the microbiome of human skin produce volatile odor-based chemical signals that attract mosquitoes.
The group plans to study how mosquitoes perceive humans through skin-associated volatile compounds and to develop a bacterial LBP. The aim is to create a safe product that is easy to apply to the skin and that protects against mosquito bites for up to two weeks without re-application.
To support this project, Azitra, founded in 2014 by scientists from Yale University, will use its knowledge of the skin microbiome to develop and characterize various strains of bacteria. Ginkgo Bioworks, based in Boston, will bring its foundries and know-how in the field of bioengineering to the supply of master technology. In the first research phase of the project, the companies will partner with leading mosquito researcher and neurogeneticist Matthew DeGennaro, Ph.D., of the FIU’s Biomolecular Sciences Institute, who brings expertise in molecular genetics and mosquito odor attraction profile as well as mosquito repellants. Latham provides program management, systems integration assistance, and technical product development.