MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - Researchers at Vanderbilt University may have uncovered a compound that could revolutionize insect repellants. The genetically engineered compound "VUAA1" shows signs of being able to change the behavior of a mosquito.
Dr. Patick Jones with Vanderbilt University says, "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."
The compound activates all of the nerves in the antennae at once, disorienting the mosquito and keeping it from being able to distinguish between different smells.
Dr. Dan Sprenger with Shelby County Mosquito Vector Control explains, "They wouldn't be able to orient. If they're flooded with that activity, they wouldn't be able to focus on where it's coming from."
Researchers say the new compound is 100% stronger than DEET, an ingredient found in most existing insect repellents. A more powerful repellent could lead to fewer mosquito bites. The Mid-South is an area prone to West Nile, St. Louis encephalitis, and malaria. Fewer bites could mean fewer cases of diseases carried by mosquitoes.
The compound still needs work in order to become a user-friendly insect repellent. Testing of the compound will continue for at least another five years before you see the product on the market.