A single molecular door, which is a key target for
insecticides was believed to be responsible for giving disease-carrying
mosquitoes an upper hand.
However, things are about to
change thanks to a team of researchers from Michigan State University, who have,
in their new study, discovered a new gateway that could successfully turn the
tide against the growing advantage of disease-carrying mosquitoes.
For years, the only truly
effective insecticide used against mosquitoes, something which even the World Health
Organisation uses, is the pyrethroid insecticide
. They have been used
extensively in developing countries as a preventive measure for many
mosquito-bred illnesses like dengue, malaria and more.
"Our finding may ultimately improve global prediction and monitoring of
pyrethroid resistance in mosquitoes and other arthropod pests", says
"Pyrethroids are effective
because they eliminate mosquitoes while having few if any side effects on
humans," MSU electrophysiologist and one of the lead authors, Yuzhe Du,
explained. "Our discovery of a second receptor in the mosquitoes' sodium
channel gives us a better understanding of how the insecticide works at a
molecular level as well as could lead to ways to stem mosquitoes' resistance to
Pyrethroids basically work by
opening the mosquito's sodium channel. This molecular door, which is jammed
wide open, causes the cells to gulp down sodium, which further overexcites the
nervous system of the mosquitoes, finally causing sodium overdose leading to
paralysis and death.
With the fast-growing detection
of insecticide resistance in many countries today, a reliable insecticide was
much needed. The discovery of a new receptor in the sodium channel has
thankfully, further increased the effectiveness of pyrethroids.
"One of the keys to the
success of this research was our cloning of a mosquito sodium channel for the
first time," Ke Dong, MSU insect toxicologist and neurobiologist and the
paper's senior author, added. "Another lead author of this study, Yoshiko
Nomura, dedicated nearly one year to make this happen, which allowed Dr. Du to
perform electrophysiological experiments with the clone."
This new discovery could have
major benefits for farming and pest-control industry. It could also largely affect
people's lives, particularly in the developing countries.
The findings from the study are published in the
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.