UC Riverside research has large implications for controlling insect-borne diseases worldwide
Insects are repelled by N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide, also known as DEET. But exactly which olfactory receptors insects use to sense DEET has eluded scientists for long.
Now researchers at the University of California, Riverside have identified these DEET-detecting olfactory receptors that cause the repellency — a major breakthrough in the field of olfaction.
Further, the team of researchers has identified three safe compounds that mimic DEET and could one day be used to prevent the transmission of deadly vector-borne diseases such as malaria, dengue, West Nile virus, and yellow fever.
Study results appear online Oct. 2 in Nature.
“Until now, no one had a clue about which olfactory receptor insects used to avoid DEET,” saidAnandasankar Ray, an associate professor of entomology, who led the research team. “Without the receptors, it is impossible to apply modern technology to design new repellents to improve upon DEET.”
The method Ray’s team used to identify the receptors examined in an unbiased fashion all the sensory neurons in the insect, which was the key to successfully finding them. In their experiments, the researchers used the genetic model system Drosophila melanogaster (fruit fly) that was genetically engineered in such a way that neurons activated by DEET glowed fluorescent green. The researchers thus found the receptors, called Ir40a receptors, lining the inside of a poorly studied region of the antenna called the sacculus.
Introduced in the 1940s, DEET has remained unchanged for the past 65 years largely because the receptor in insects for DEET was unknown. Capable of dissolving plastics and nylon, DEET has been reported to inhibit an enzyme (acetylcholinesterase) in mammals that is important in the nervous system. DEET is also unaffordable and inconvenient for use in Africa and other parts of the world where hundreds of millions of people suffer from insect-transmitted diseases.
“Our three compounds, which we tested rigorously in the lab, do not dissolve plastics,” Ray said. “They are approved by the Food and Drug Administration for consumption as flavors or fragrances, and are already being used as flavoring agents in some foods. But now they can be applied to bed-nets, clothes, curtains — making them ward off insects.”
Using novel chemical informatics strategies, Ray’s lab screened half a million compounds against the DEET receptor to identify substitutes. A computer algorithm the team developed identified which compounds are not only predicted to be strong repellents but also found naturally in fruits, plants or animals. The algorithm predicted nearly 200 natural DEET substitutes; of which the researchers tested ten compounds. Of these, eight were strong repellents on flies, of which four were tested in Aedesmosquitoes and found to be strong repellents. Of the four compounds, three are already approved by the Food and Drug Administration as food additives.
The Latest on: Safe Alternatives to DEET
- Doctors look for alternatives to DEET to scare off mosquitoes on September 5, 2016 at 10:50 pm
People are being urged to use bug sprays with the ingredient DEET as another layer of protection ... too – but I think the bigger concern is keeping her and her baby safe,” a new mom Rochelle Colburn said. Tampa pediatrician Dr. David Berger agrees ... […]
- Insect repellents to stay safe this summer on June 8, 2016 at 8:18 pm
In response to Consumer Reports’ concerns about natural insect repellents, a trade group, the Natural Products Association, says that some plant oils do work, and some people want alternatives to deet ... they are safe for children and all are ... […]
- Consumer Reports: Insect Repellents to Stay Safe This Summer on May 24, 2016 at 2:27 pm
In response to Consumer Reports' concerns about natural insect repellents, a trade group, the Natural Products Association, says that some plant oils do work, and some people want alternatives to deet ... they are safe for children and all are safe ... […]
- Consumer Reports: How to win the battle of the bugs on June 21, 2015 at 11:59 am
Even fewer — 23 percent — think the repellents are safe for kids ... introduced in the last decade — make good alternatives to DEET. Here's why: >> They work. The repellents Consumer Reports tested that contain 20 percent picaridin and 30 percent ... […]
- Scientists ID Natural Alternatives to DEET Insect Repellent on October 7, 2013 at 1:05 am
DEET -- the ... uncovered four alternatives that may send DEET into retirement after 67 years. "The candidates contain chemicals that do not dissolve plastic, are affordable and smell mildly like grapes, with three considered safe in human foods," says ... […]
- A DEET-Like Mosquito Spray That Smells Like Jasmine Or Grapes? on October 2, 2013 at 10:28 am
DEET alternatives also could mean that people in the U.S. "can ... And, as you can imagine, they smell really nice." The compounds are cheap, safe enough to eat and don't dissolve plastic the way DEET does, Ray says. And like DEET, he says, they keep ... […]
- Scientists find insect DEET receptors, develop safe alternatives to DEET on October 2, 2013 at 9:54 am
This image shows the chemical structure of the four compounds found to be strong mosquito-repellents. Credit: Ray Lab, UC Riverside. Insects are repelled by N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide, also known as DEET. But exactly which olfactory receptors insects use to ... […]
- Scientists Figure Out How DEET Makes Bugs Buzz Off, And How To Make Safer, Cheaper Alternatives on October 2, 2013 at 6:49 am
Scientists think they’ve discovered the secret to how the insect repellent DEET works -- and with it, the secret to making a cheaper, safer alternative ... that could activate Ir40a that is both safe for human consumption and easy to spray on crops. […]
- Scientists find insect DEET receptors, develop safe alternatives to DEET on October 2, 2013 at 6:06 am
Insects are repelled by N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide, also known as DEET. But exactly which olfactory receptors insects use to sense DEET has eluded scientists for long. Now researchers at the University of California, Riverside have identified these DEET ... […]
- CDC Suggests LANXESS's Picaridin Insect Repellent as Effective DEET-Alternative on February 24, 2009 at 4:00 pm
PITTSBURGH - February 25, 2009 - LANXESS Corporation's Picaridin insect repellent has been suggested by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) as an effective alternative to DEET. The safe and reliable Picaridin (also sold under the LANXESS SALTIDIN ... […]
via Google News and Bing News