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James Cook University: The Gravid Aedes Trap (GAT) - revolutionising mosquito control

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Publication Date: 
July 2017
Case study from: National Survey of Research Commercialisation

The Gravid Aedes Trap (GAT) is a revolutionary design in mosquito traps that uses transparent panels to confuse and trap mosquitoes. The concept for the design initially came to Prof Scott Ritchie from James Cook University (JCU) when he saw mud crabs struggling to escape from a crab pot. Scott reasoned that the same principle could be applied to mosquitoes and hence the GAT was born!

As with all groundbreaking inventions, it’s five percent inspiration and ninety-five percent perspiration, with development of the trap taking Scott and collaborator Prof Alvaro Eiras, from University Federal de Minas Gerais, Brazil, many months to perfect.

The GAT selectively attracts and kills female mosquitoes that carry dengue, such as Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus. The GAT initially lures mosquitoes by using stagnant water and once inside the design makes use of the trapped mosquitoes’ innate escape behavior to prevent them from escaping. Much as an insect will exit a room via a bright, open window, the transparent panels of the GAT trick the mosquito and they fly towards the panels instead of the trap entry hole. In doing so, the mosquitos contact the pesticide-treated trap wall where they are rapidly killed and fall onto a screen for collecting by field staff.

In trials at James Cook University, 90% of mosquitoes entering the GAT were not able to escape. The GAT can be used for disease monitoring, by testing the captured mosquitoes for the presence of dengue virus and also for infection by the dengue-blocking bacteria Wolbachia, which are used in the Eliminate Dengue program. The trap can also be used to capture the Asian Tiger Mosquito, an invasive mosquito that is currently in the Torres Strait and threatens to invade the Australian mainland. The GAT is especially useful in developing countries, where electrical power is not available.

In 2014, JCU licensed the GAT to Biogents, a German pest control company who are currently manufacturing and selling the traps worldwide.

This project demonstrates the translation of a simple but effective technology that addresses a significant unmet need in the pest control/disease monitoring space. The benefit to JCU has been the traction gained by the trap in the marketplace and the subsequent interest shown by other industry partners to work with JCU. Prof. Scott Ritchie’s research interests and trap development expertise has attracted numerous industries partners wanting to fund further research projects in his lab, many with the potential to generate commercial outcomes for JCU.

The Cane Toad Lure: stopping cane toads in their tracks

Sex and hunger drives all animals, so innovative research from James Cook University (JCU) is harnessing these urges to capture cane toads. The cane toad lure attracts both male and reproductive female toads by emitting the mating call of a male toad. It also emits a specific light spectrum to attract insects without scaring the toads, the insects in turn attract hungry toads.

The lure can be programmed to target any pest amphibian species, not just toads. This gives it global impact! Another benefit is it can be deployed on any sort of trap, making it practical for universal adoption. Also, because the lure is small, rugged, inexpensive and solar powered, it can be deployed in urban and remote settings. The lure is a “game changer” on two fronts; it is the first to use acoustics to capture amphibians, and is the first automated control system such that individual adult toads do not need to be collected by hand.

The competitive edge of the cane toad lure is two-fold; toads will not evolve to ignore the mating calls or the attracted insects, whereas many amphibians display rapid-learning to avoid scent or food-based lures, and there is no by-catch of species you are trying to protect.

ARC Linkage and Smart State funding was won to help drive development of the lure, and through the partnership with industry-leading Animal Control Technologies Australia (ACTA), the lure is on the way to the market. Earlier in 2016, JCU licensed the Cane Toad Lure to ACTA who are now looking to finalise manufacturing and launch the trap in Townsville during the Queensland Pest Animal Symposium from 7-10 November 2016.

SMART Arm: Rehabilitating arm function for stroke patients

The SMART Arm medical device, developed by researchers at James Cook University (JCU), is a breakthrough in rehabilitating arm function for stroke survivors. The device is innovative in that it combines repetitive training with outcome-triggered electro muscular stimulation; this allows patients to rehabilitate arm function more rapidly than conventional therapy.

In clinical trials using the SMART Arm device, patients undergoing a four week course of SMART Arm treatment have shown a 50% improvement compared to a nine week course of conventional therapy.

The SMART Arm device allows patients with severe arm paresis to initiate therapy through the outcome-triggered electro muscular stimulation. The SMART Arm device also allows patients to work independently of a therapist, and to receive a higher dose of therapy than possible through conventional one-on-one therapy with a physiotherapist.

JCU has spun the technology into a company, SMART Arm Pty Ltd, to complete the development and regulatory approval for the device with sales of the device expected to commence in late 2017.