By isolating a chemical that causes kidney failure in mosquitoes leaving some of the mosquitoes too bloated to survive after feeding, researchers have come a step closer to fighting malaria.
The research, a collaboration that includes Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Ohio State and Cornell Universities, was conducted on species known to carry malaria, West Nile virus, dengue and yellow fever.
"By introducing a specific chemical, we cause kidney failure in mosquitoes, and they can't eliminate fluids after a blood meal, Jerod Denton, Ph.D., assistant professor of Anesthesiology and Pharmacology, said.
"They become bloated and unable to fly, which makes them highly susceptible to predators.
"Most importantly, they meet an untimely death. In layman's terms, the mosquito's kidneys shut down, it can't pee, and it nearly explodes," he said.
Current insecticides work primarily by targeting the mosquito nervous system, but these chemicals are becoming less effective as insects evolve to develop resistance. There are also increasing concerns about the long-term impact of these chemicals on other life forms, Denton said.
The study has been published in PLOS ONE.