Nashville, Tennessee – Scientists from Vanderbilt University have accidentally discovered a chemical compound that can potentially produce a much more effective insect repellent. This compound, once produced for the purpose of repelling mosquitoes can be a thousand times more effective than the current ones available in the market.

The inadvertent discovery happened while scientists were searching for ways to fight malaria caused by anopheles mosquitoes. This species is to blame for the death of millions due to malaria.

Accidental Discovery

Doctor Patrick Jones and his colleagues believe that they have found not just the scientific solution to the malaria scourge but a great deal more purely by accident. The research that started out with the goal to develop a new mosquito-specific insect repellent has resulted to the discovery of a compound that can virtually repel all insects. This is a great leap considering it has the potential to repel not just the insects on your backyard but those disease vectors and agricultural pests as well.

Jones and his colleagues were studying the mosquito’s olfactory system, which is used to detect humans whose blood the mosquito favors over other mammals. With the funding from the Gates Foundation, the researchers have discovered very helpful information that can help fight the battle against mosquitoes and the diseases they carry.

VUAA1 Compound

The methodology involved removing and crushing the insect’s antenna where the smell receptors are housed. The researchers would then bombard these parts with different chemical compounds to see if any affected the individual receptor cells. Results show that one compound has an effect. This compound is known as VUAA1.

Essentially, this compound activates every smell receptor that a mosquito has. Altering these receptors does two things. First, it will short-circuit their olfactory system. At the same time, it will also mask their ability to smell anything else. If the mosquito cannot isolate the scent of a human, it will no longer be drawn to humans as a food source.

The Benefits of this New Knowledge

This discovery has made it possible to design a new class of chemical compounds to reduce toxicity concerns that have been plaguing current state of commercial repellents. It can also increase the efficacy of current repellents making it work with much lower concentrations. Ultimately, it can also provide more access to these newly discovered compounds, which currently have a high cost.

This beautiful accident can now potentially reduce the incidence of malaria in different parts of the world. The aim is to save more lives and ease the suffering of those that do not have the means to purchase the medication.

Vanderbilt University has filed a patent for this newly discovered compound. This discovery will take many years and dollars before it is perfected into a fully effective repellent that can be purchased in the commercial market.

Filed under: Mosquito Bites Treatment

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