New UKM Programme To Help Combat Dengue Fever

By Saiful Bahri Kamaruddin
Pix Shahiddan Saidi

BANGI, 7 July 2015 – The National University of Malaysia (UKM) will take part in a community project to help neighborhoods curb Dengue fever by distributing and teaching residents to use a new Anti-Dengue kit in three states which recorded the highest number of cases this year.

For that purpose UKM and two companies Inno Biologics Sdn Bhd and Entogenex Industries Sdn Bhd  entered into a memorandum of agreement (MoA), a memorandum of understanding (MoU) and a research agreement to carry out a project dubbed Dengue-free Community (KBD), a flagship project by the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MOSTI).

The collaboration for the social impact programme for dengue control was signed here today by UKM Vice-Chancellor Prof Datuk Dr Noor Azlan Ghazali,  while EntoGenex and  Inno Biologics were represented by their Director Dr Neil Ranaweera and  Senior Vice-President Mohd Yusri Bulat respectively.

Prof Noor Azlan said UKM’s has a track record of being a solution-provider in testing and researching products.

“UKM has set up a dengue-free teams consisting of 100 volunteers which will be sent to high-risk neighbourhoods with the help of the local councils and which would be trained to use the kit to combat the scourge,” Prof Noor Azlan explained.

Dr Ranaweera, in his opening remarks, said the new kit is a comprehensive set of tools consisting of insect repellant, spray and Trypsin-based wet larvicide that UKM had helped developed and tested to  be used against the Aedes aegypti mosquito.

“EntoGenex has a long established cooperation with UKM – seven years in fact with the Faculty of Health Sciences. This is a ground-breaking technology, thanks to MOSTI for providing grants,” he said.

However, the collaboration extends beyond FHS, as the expertise of the Graduate School of Business (GSB) is also being tapped.

“GSB will partner with Inno Biologics and EntoGenex to to implement commercialization of the various dengue-control tools,” Dr Ranaweera added.

EntoGenex executive director Tunku Naquiyuddin Tuanku Jaafar, who is also UKM Pro-Chancellor, told the UKM News Portal that one of the products in the kit – the MOUSTicide is so-named because ‘Moust’ is French for ‘mosquito’.

“It is not a compound to kill mice, as many people had thought when first seeing the label,” he clarified rather amusingly.

Tunku Naquiyuddin said the products had been sold in Singapore and Philippines, where it had shown good results.

“The programme is holistic and very targeted in combating dengue. We will be using a four step plan, known as REAP – reduce, educate, activate and prevent,” he said.

He said while the government could introduce many programmes to fight against dengue, the community still played a big role.

“The onus is on the community to ensure that their backyard is not a breeding ground,” he added.

A team from the Faculty of Health Sciences led by Prof Dr Sallehudin bin Sulaiman and  Dr Hidayatulfathi Othman successfully carried out simulated field trials on the Entogenex Insect repellant and tested mosquito larvicide products based on Trypsin in Bangi back in 2010.

Prof Sallehudin and Dr Hidayatulfathi also did tests to evaluate the effectiveness of Trypsin-based larvicide which contained rice husks and wet powder formulation.

Dr Hidayatulfathi said her team had done the tests very thoroughly and had left no stone unturned.

“We found that the MOUSTicide worked not only on the larvae of Aedes Aegypti, but with other mosquitoes as well, including the maggots of the Anopheles mosquito that transmits Malaria,” she said.

However, she reassured consumers that the compounds are safe for humans and other animals and the substances can be poured into aquarium water safely without harming fish.

She added that the kit is still a work in progress and that the products should be exported.ukmnewsportal-eg