Diet Drugs Make Mosquitoes Stop Biting, Study Finds

  • Diet Drugs Make Mosquitoes Stop Biting, Study Finds

Diet Drugs Make Mosquitoes Stop Biting, Study Finds

At that point, the researchers knew that NPYLR7 might be what they have long sought: a means of preventing mosquitoes from biting people. The mosquitoes' appetites were then found to be reduced. It is possible, though, that the same compound may suppress their appetites as well. They explain that the females of these species are attracted to human blood because they need a protein from human blood for producing their eggs.

Some appetite-reducing drugs can curtail mosquitoes' impulse to feed on warm-blooded hosts, which may be useful in preventing mosquito-borne illnesses such as Zika and yellow fever.

Vosshall's lab hypothesized that certain neuropeptide hormones were responsible for a mosquito's attraction to humans and that feeding turned these pathways off.

"It's like the ultimate Thanskgiving dinner", said Laura Duvall, a study author.

The scientists gave the mosquitoes a saline solution containing the drugs developed by the pharmaceutical industry to activate and inhibit these receptors in humans, and found the insects' appetite and attraction to humans dropped sharply.

So for their final test, the researchers let the mosquitoes loose on a live mouse. Alternately, when the researchers fed the mosquitoes blood doped with a drug that inhibits the same receptors, they behaved as if they had not eaten at all.

To pinpoint the particular receptor that the human drugs were acting upon, the team used their knowledge of the mosquito genome to clone all 49 of the species' possible neuropeptide receptors and exposed them to the same compounds.

James Logan, head of the department for disease control at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, described the discovery of this potential new technology as "exciting" and "intriguing". "Insecticides are failing because of resistance, we haven't come up with a way to make better repellents and we don't yet have vaccines that work well enough..." He noted, however, that methods of transferring the drugs to the mosquitoes are "not too easy", but suggested that "sugar baits" could be a solution.

The researchers' strategy could be vastly helpful in vector control and the prevention of mosquito-borne diseases.

Braack added that "much remains to be clarified and requires further research". To see how such types of drugs might affect NPY in mosquitoes, researchers conducted an experiment. The researchers plan to use this information to find out where the receptor is produced in the insects' body and how it is activated to control feeding behaviour.