A UK-based chemical company, Ximed Group, is claiming to have found a natural formulation that can successfully eradicate Pierce's disease, the debilitating vine infection that has caused millions of dollars of damage to the US wine industry in recent years.

The company specialises in the application of terpene, which is a naturally occurring low toxicity botanical substance, in agriculture and pharmacy. And it is this botanical, Ximed says, that has been adapted to cure the insect transmitted disease.

In a statement Ximed said: "The formula developed by Ximed is a natural solution for a natural problem by using natural extracts. The formulation is metabolized by the plant after two weeks, it has no side effects, with yields and sugar content staying constant and in a recent test in South Carolina, eradicated the disease entirely from 86% of the vines tested."

The cause of Pierce's disease is the bacterium Xyella fastidiosa, which is carried to plants by the insect the glassy-winged sharpshooter. The Microbe is introduced into grapevines when the sharpshooter punctures stems to feed on sap. Inside the plant, the bacteria multiply, blocking the flow of water and nutrients, and in the worse cases killing the plant.