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Saturday, June 4, 2011

US researchers blind mosquitoes to combat fatal diseases

Are you not tired of mosquito bites that cause deadly diseases like dengue fever, yellow fever and malaria?
Three classes of molecules were created by scientists at the University of California that will make mosquitoes less sensitive to smell the carbon dioxide exhaled from the human body.
In a paper published in Nature, lead investigator Anandasankar Ray, 37, an assistant professor of entomology, the breakthrough would give additional protection against mosquito-borne diseases.
The chemicals will block the ability of the disease-carrying insects to smell of carbon dioxide people release from their body and thereby change the mosquiotes’ host-seeking behavior, in a report by The Press Enterprise.
In the attached YouTube video, Ray said, "In my lab, we have been recently able to find odors that can specifically act on the carbon dioxide detection machinery of mosquitoes.
"There is one class of compounds that can block the carbon dioxide receptor. Another class of compounds can mimic the activity of carbon dioxide, and the third class of compounds—which is the most exciting—are odors that can superactivate the mosquitoes' carbon dioxide sensor, or in other words, it blinds the carbon dioxide sensor for several minutes and they are unable to navigate towards the carbon dioxide source."
The researchers identified one of the problems with the 13 chemicals from an array of 50 found to be effective was that they are not pleasant to the nose.
Confident that an acceptable compound can be found, Ray said, "The most effective one doesn't have a very pleasant odor. It smells like rotten butter."
In a report by The Times of India, an American scientist Mark Stopfer said, "The chemicals tested so far have not been shown to be safe for humans. But the principles that these compounds reveal are definitely not safe for mosquitoes."
From these developments, it seems not far that a new wave of insect repellants and lotions will soon be available in the market and hopefully, bring the fatality rate down.
Details of this report here.

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