Bayer’s research scientists want to make people invisible to malaria-spreading mosquitoes
Focus on blood-suckers: mosquitoes rely mainly on their sense of smell when searching for protein sources. If they can smell exhaled breath and sweat, human skin cannot be far away. Only female mosquitoes bite, as they need nutrient-rich blood for their eggs to mature.
Malaria germs can be fatal to humans. Just one bite is often enough for an infected Anopheles mosquito to transmit the deadly parasite to its victim. Mosquitoes find their nutrient-rich human blood by “following their nose” as they fly around in the hunt for carbon dioxide and lactic acid, two scent molecules given off by humans. But the clouds of disease-transmitting insects do not have odor-perception organs like those of people. Instead, they use highly sensitive antennae to detect odors.
Targeted blockade of odor receptors
Ever since research into the molecular principles of the sense of smell of insects began, Bayer CropScience’s experts have been wanting to use this knowledge. They have now developed an entirely new strategy to get to grips with the dangerous blood-suckers: scientists are looking for substances that home in on mosquitoes’ odor receptors, block them, and as a result make the insects odor-blind. As a result, the insects cannot find their victims or breeding partners. Read this article to find out more about how research scientists hope to use the tactic of odor perception to restrict the spread of malaria.