A new insect repellent is stronger than DEET and could prevent malaria
No more mosquito bites! No more fleas! No more moths! A new class of insect repellent is thousands of times more effective than DEET.
A team of researchers working on a project to develop new ways of controlling the spread of malaria found a compound that messes with the mosquito's sense of smell.
The compound known as Vanderbilt University Allosteric Agonist (VUAA1) activates every single odour receptor at once, overwhelming the mosquito and making it leave.
If you have been in an elevator or small office with someone wearing tons and tons of perfume, chances are you got dizzy after a while. Surely the smell lingered in your nose long after the encounter, making you feel even worse, or at least a bit nauseous. Researchers believe that something similar happens to mosquitoes when exposed to VUAA1, and Patrick Jones, one of the post-doctoral fellows involved in the study, believes that the effect is far worse for the insect than humans.
The repellent activates OR, smell receptors found in mosquito antennae that respond to different odours, however, these are normally activated one by one and only when they are connected to a scent co-receptor known as Orco.
The researchers explain over atnews@Vanderbilt
"Think of an OR as a microphone that can detect a single frequency," explained Zwiebel. "On her antenna the mosquito has dozens of types of these microphones, each tuned to a specific frequency. Orco acts as the switch in each microphone that tells the brain when there is a signal.
"When a mosquito smells an odor, the microphone tuned to that smell will turn 'on' its Orco switch. The other microphones remain off," he continued. "However, by stimulating Orco directly we can turn them all on at once. This would effectively overload the mosquito's sense of smell and shut down her ability to find blood."
The scientists confirmed that VUAA1 activates similar smell receptors in other insects, including ants and moths. And they are planning to test it in Africa to try to stop mosquitoes from spreading malaria.
VUUA1 is not suitable for commercial products, but the researchers will soon start working in a compound that is appropriate for commercialisation and can put an end to mosquito bites.