New research could do away with mosquitoes - KAIT-Jonesboro, AR-News, weather, sports

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New research could one day stop mosquitoes in their tracks. A newly discovered repellent is said to be 1000-times stronger than anything on the market today.

Amanda Anderson knows just how annoying mosquitoes can be. She battles them every summer at the lake. 

"Especially in July, the mosquitos are really bad," she says.

Mosquito sprays on the market now contain the chemical 'deet,' which for some people like Amanda, doesn't always work very well. But except for a few home remedies, it's really the only thing out there.

That's where new science comes in. 

The research starts at a mosquito's antennae where their olfactory system - or sense of smell - helps them in their hunt for humans.

"We were able to identify a molecule that had the strangest activity that we had ever seen in that it could act on every single smell receptor complex that we had ever tested," explained Vanderbilt Researcher Patrick Jones.

The new compound, now called VUAA-1, turns on the mosquito's entire smell receptor system at one time.

"By activating everything at once, we are not only limiting her ability to smell something else," Jones explained. "But it is also going to have an excito-repellent effect -- sort of a 'get-out-of-Dodge' response."

But as promising as the research sounds, it still needs more testing.

"We need more testing to make it more volatile, more friendly for synthesis," said Vanderbilt's Dr. Larry Zwiebel, "to see if we can actually take that lead compound and develop that next generation of insect repellent."

So there's no guarantee, but it's possible that trips to the lake will one day be mosquito-free.

This new compound is still at least five years away, but it shows a lot of promise. One day, it might also help reduce the spread of malaria in developing countries. Or it could help farmers keep dangerous pests off their crops.

You can read more about the Vanderbilt University research here. Or check out Dr. Zwiebel's blog on the topic.

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