The insecticide would work by interfering with an enzyme found in the nervous systems of mosquitoes and many other organisms, called acetylcholinesterase.
Existing insecticides target the enzyme but affect a broad range of species, said entomologist Jeff Bloomquist, a professor in UF’s Emerging Pathogens Institute and its Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.
Acetylcholinesterase helps regulate nervous system activity by stopping electrical signaling in nerve cells. If the enzyme can’t do its job, the mosquito begins convulsing and dies. The research team’s goal is to develop compounds perfectly matched to the acetylcholinesterase molecules in malaria-transmitting mosquitoes, he said.
“A simple analogy would be that we’re trying to make a key that fits perfectly into a lock,” Bloomquist said. “We want to shut down the enzyme, but only in target species.”
Malaria is spread by mosquitoes in the Anopheles genus, notably Anopheles gambiae, native to Africa. The disease is common in poor communities where homes may not have adequate screens to keep flying insects out.
Malaria is caused by microscopic organisms called protists, which are present in the saliva of infected female mosquitoes and transmitted when the mosquitoes bite.
Initial symptoms of the disease can include fever, chills, convulsions, headaches and nausea. In severe cases, malaria can cause kidney failure, coma and death. Worldwide, malaria infected about 219 million people in 2010 and killed about 660,000, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 90 percent of those infected lived in Africa.
Bloomquist and colleagues at Virginia Tech, where the project is based, are trying to perfect mosquito-specific compounds that can be manufactured on a large scale and applied to mosquito netting and surfaces where the pests might land.
It will take at least four to five years before the team has developed and tested a compound enough that it’s ready to be submitted for federal approval, Bloomquist said.
The team recently published a study in the journal Pesticide Biochemistry and Physiology comparing eight experimental compounds with commercially available insecticides that target the enzyme.
Though they were less toxic to mosquitoes than commercial products, the experimental compounds were far more selective, indicating researchers are on the right track, he said.
“The compounds we’re using are not very toxic to honeybees, fish and mammals, but we need to refine them further, make them more toxic to mosquitoes and safer for nontarget organisms,” he said.
Funding for the project came from a five-year, $3.6 million grant from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health.
In Florida, malaria was a significant problem in the early 20th century, transmitted by native Anopheles mosquitoes. The disease has been greatly curtailed via mosquito-control practices but even today, cases are occasionally reported in the Sunshine State.Source: Jeff Bloomquist, email@example.com, 352-273-9417
Tom Nordlie | Newswise
New data unearths pesticide peril in beehives
21.04.2017 | Cornell University
New rice fights off drought
04.04.2017 | RIKEN
More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.
Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...
Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.
"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...
The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.
Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...
The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...
Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.
Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...
20.04.2017 | Event News
18.04.2017 | Event News
03.04.2017 | Event News
24.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
24.04.2017 | Materials Sciences
24.04.2017 | Life Sciences