Nutrition Colombia , Bogotá D.C., Tuesday, March 29 of 2016, 10:40

Biolarvicide helps combat elephantiasis vector

Using the cape gooseberry calyx Universidad Nacional de Colombia (UNal) chemists produced a larvicide to help control the pest which causes elephantiasis, otherwise known as lymphatic filariasis

UN/DICYT This is a Chemistry master’s project of Jenny Paola Ortega, which results is a biological component which attacks and kills Culex quinquefasciatus larvae, the causing agent of elephantiasis.


According to the World Health Organization (WHO) there are more than 1,100 million people in 55 countries threatened by lymphatic filariasis and although it is not very common in Colombia, there is still evidence of this insect in some areas of the Province of Cundinamarca.


Given that the extracted components are naturally based, the larvicide is not harmful for the environment.


The research project used a nonedible part of the cape gooseberry known as the calyx, the outer protective casing of the fruit, one of the most exotic fruits exported from Colombia.


This biomass (cape gooseberry calyx) was initially submitted to classic and emerging extraction methods to release its extracts and observe its activity on Culex quinquefasciatus larvae in controlled environments.


The calyx was submitted to solvents at pressures between 100 and 200 atmospheres. It’s like placing beans in a pressure cooker which by the way are only submitted to 2 atmospheres. Carbon dioxide and ethanol were used as solvents. The extracts obtained with different solvents had greater larvicide activity than those obtained by classic techniques.


The reason researchers targeted larvae is because of their limited mobility and it is easier to avoid them from reaching adulthood, which is when they cause greater harm.


Besides producing the larvicide, they also are planning on using other agroindustrial waste byproducts in other productive chains. Furthermore this opens the door to improve extraction techniques related to green chemistry and displace possible noxious solvents for innocuous extraction techniques which do not use harmful human or environmental solvents.


This research project turns then in a matrix to strengthen the cape gooseberry productive chain as now the calyx has an effective use. Furthermore access to extraction methods are amplified.


The biolarvicide showed great performance in laboratory techniques and they will now analyze the behavior in non-controlled environments. They will now assess the ovulation frequency of the insect, its life span and infection times in human beings will now depend on an experiment design to determine the effectiveness of the larvicide.


This research project will be showcased and presented as a successful extraction method for pressurized fluids during the Fourth Ibero-American Conference of Supercritical Fluids which will take place in Viña del Mar, Chile.