New Insect Repellant May Be Thousands of Times Stronger Than DEET

Discussion in 'Science and Nature' started by MelT, May 10, 2011.

  1. \t\t\t \t\t\t \t\t\t\tScienceDaily (May 9, 2011) - Imagine an insect repellant that not only is thousands of times more effective than DEET -- the active ingredient in most commercial mosquito repellants -- but also works against all types of insects, including flies, moths and ants.

    That possibility has been created by the discovery of a new class of insect repellant made in the laboratory of Vanderbilt Professor of Biological Sciences and Pharmacology Laurence Zwiebel and reported this week in the online Early Edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

    "It wasn't something we set out to find," said David Rinker, a graduate student who performed the study in collaboration with graduate student Gregory Pask and post-doctoral fellow Patrick Jones. "It was an anomaly that we noticed in our tests."
    The tests were conducted as part of a major interdisciplinary research project to develop new ways to control the spread of malaria by disrupting a mosquito's sense of smell supported by the Grand Challenges in Global Health Initiative funded by the Foundation for the NIH through a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
    "It's too soon to determine whether this specific compound can act as the basis of a commercial product," Zwiebel cautioned. "But it is the first of its kind and, as such, can be used to develop other similar compounds that have characteristics appropriate for commercialization."

    The discovery of this new class of repellant is based on insights that scientists have gained about the basic nature of the insect's sense of smell in the last few years. Although the mosquito's olfactory system is housed in its antennae, 10 years ago biologists thought that it worked in the same way at the molecular level as it does in mammals. A family of special proteins called odorant receptors, or ORs, sits on the surface of nerve cells in the nose of mammals and in the antennae of mosquitoes. When these receptors come into contact with smelly molecules, they trigger the nerves signaling the detection of specific odors.

    In the last few years, however, scientists have been surprised to learn that the olfactory system of mosquitoes and other insects is fundamentally different. In the insect system, conventional ORs do not act autonomously. Instead, they form a complex with a unique co-receptor (called Orco) that is also required to detect odorant molecules. ORs are spread all over the antennae and each responds to a different odor. To function, however, each OR must be connected to an Orco.
    "Think of an OR as a microphone that can detect a single frequency," Zwiebel said. "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. 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."

    Because the researchers couldn't predict what chemicals might modulate OR-Orco complexes, they decided to "throw the kitchen sink" at the problem. Through their affiliation with Vanderbilt's Institute of Chemical Biology, they gained access to Vanderbilt's high throughput screening facility, a technology intended for the drug discovery process, not for the screening of insect ORs.

    Jones used genetic engineering techniques to insert mosquito odorant receptors into the human embryonic kidney cells used in the screening process. Rinker tested these cells against a commercial library of 118,000 small molecules normally used in drug development. They expected to find, and did find, a number of compounds that triggered a response in the conventional mosquito ORs they were screening, but they were surprised to find one compound that consistently triggered OR-Orco complexes, leading them to conclude that they had discovered the first molecule that directly stimulates the Orco co-receptor. They have named the compound VUAA1.
    Although it is not an odorant molecule, the researchers determined that VUAA1 activates insect OR-Orco complexes in a manner similar to a typical odorant molecule. Jones also verified that mosquitoes respond to exposure to VUAA1, a crucial step in demonstrating that VUAA1 can affect a mosquito's behavior.
    "If a compound like VUAA1 can activate every mosquito OR at once, then it could overwhelm the insect's sense of smell, creating a repellant effect akin to stepping onto an elevator with someone wearing too much perfume, except this would be far worse for the mosquito," Jones said.

    The researchers have just begun behavioral studies with the compound. In preliminary tests with mosquitoes, they have found that VUAA1 is thousands of times more effective than DEET.

    They have also established that the compound stimulates the OR-Orco complexes of flies, moths and ants. As a result, "VUAA1 opens the door for the development of an entirely new class of agents, which could be used not only to disrupt disease vectors, but also the nuisance insects in your backyard or the agricultural pests in your crops," Jones said.

    Many questions must be answered before VUAA1 can be considered for commercial applications. Zwiebel's team is currently working with researchers in Vanderbilt's Drug Discovery Program to pare away the parts of VUAA1 that don't contribute to its activity. Once that is done, they will begin testing its toxicity.
    Vanderbilt University has filed for a patent on this class of compounds and is talking with potential corporate licensees interested in incorporating them into commercial products, with special focus on development of products to reduce the spread of malaria in the developing world.
  2. I love causing mass genocides to insects
  3. Follow up study: "New insect repellent 1000x's more potent than DEET is 1000x's more effective at causing cancer than DEET". :laughing:

    Just kidding...this would be cool if something commercial comes of it. My wife would be particularly excited to hear this seeing as how all the bugs seem to gravitate toward her while we are hiking/backpacking. :D
  4. #4 garrison68, May 10, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: May 10, 2011
    When I had bedbugs a few years ago, I unsuccessfully tried to find a black market supplier of DDT. DDT has never been unsafe for human exposure, when used properly, and virtually eliminated malaria in some African countries where it was needed, but it was pulled from the market due to hysteria which was mostly generated by the book, Silent Spring.

    I don't know if this new stuff works against bed bugs, but it does it'll sell like hotcakes because they are very difficult to kill.
  5. A new way to kill living beings! Awesome! :rolleyes:

    Why do humans think they are above animals? It's hilarious. We are animals.
  6. Always enjoy your posts, Melt. But didn't we learn the first time?

  7. It doesn't kill them.

    It's like a flash-bang. It overloads their senses.

    I didn't hear any of them saying they were above animals. I see them doing what humans do: control their environment. This is what all animals attempt to do. So perhaps you are being less animalistic by saying that this is wrong of us.
  8. #8 lazytoker, May 11, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: May 11, 2011

    umm.... im sure the insects don't give a shit about you.... we got poisonous crap around here. It's not that I don't like other living things, it's just that I would rather them die, than me. I'm not going out hunting bugs. Actually, I've never used repellant... so I don't know why I'm in here.

    it's fairly obvious we are animals, but I appreciatew the news.
  9. Yes but we arent insects.

    Why do you think an insect is the same as a human?
  10. #10 budsmokn420, May 11, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: May 11, 2011
    I don't think humans are the same as insects but I don't think we are above them.

    I am even careful while walking so I don't step on ants lol I guess I'm just a radical animal lover haha
  11. We are quite far above them. Which is why we can make chemicals like this to kill them.

  12. Like I said, we are smarter than them and different obviously, but I see us as equal.

    I don't judge beings by their intelligence.
  13. Hmm..

    Well i guess thats the scientist in me.

  14. Lol I guess so.

    I think you could figure out yourself that not many people agree with me haha
  15. I figured that out a while ago. Just never got to debate with you until now.

    Your the star being guy right?
  16. People, animals, insects, plants, no fucking difference.. I mean, if I had to choose between the life of my mother and the life of this old oak tree out back, it could only be done with the flip of a coin..

  17. Yes way back in the day lol

    I'm into Buddhism and Taoism now. I don't really have much proof of that star people thing so I don't really talk about it.

    I'm not saying it's true or not true...I'm neutral on it at this point in time.
  18. I dont judge ( Just kidding you know i do ) but my brother was and still in into that.

    Kinda scares me sometimes. Hes not any different but he treats it like a religion, Or perhaps a cult.

  19. Well I wouldn't be scared lol

    That kind of new age stuff doesn't advocate anything harmful so there's nothing to worry about. They just talk about peace and love.
  20. Nah hes all 2012, And hes a starchild who the aliens want to come and save before the world ends. And he was designed by aliens instead of born.

    Some bullshit, Shit.

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