Scientists say they may have found a way to reduce the appetite of blood-hungry mosquitoes, by giving them human diet drugs.This left them feeling full and bloated and put them off biting, US researchers said.
They said the technique could be used to prevent illnesses such as Zika, yellow fever and malaria.But their research is still in its early stages, the study in the journal Cell reports.
The researchers, from Rockefeller University in New York City, conducted their experiments on Aedes aegypti mosquitoes.Female mosquitoes of this species – who are the only ones who bite – are fiercely attracted to human beings, because their blood contains the protein they need to produce their eggs.
Once fed, that attraction to humans goes away, leaving them with little interest in another blood meal for several days.When the researchers gave the mosquitoes a saline solution containing the diet drugs, they were amazed to find that the mosquitoes’ appetite plummeted, just as it does in humans.
The research team says its findings have huge implications for future research.
Ms Duvall said focusing on mosquitoes’ appetites was a good idea because it used what came naturally to them, but it was not an attempt to eradicate the insects because the effects of drugs were not permanent.
She envisaged the drugs being delivered to female mosquitoes in the wild using traps attractive to the insects.
“We are multiple steps away from using this in the field, and we will always need other complementary strategies alongside this,” she said.