Secrets of insect repellent DEET could prove decisive in the war on malaria, dengue and West Nile fever
Researchers use new screening method to find four repellents that are as powerful as substance used effectively for more than 60 years to protect people
Scientists have uncovered the secrets behind the world’s most common insect repellent – helping them find new ways to protect people from diseases such as malaria, dengue and West Nile fever.
The researchers have used a new screening method to find four insect repellents that are as powerful as DEET, a substance that has been used effectively for more than 60 years to protect people against mosquitoes and other biting insects.
Three have already been deemed safe for human use, and are even found in certain kinds of food. The fourth is a chemical found in the pheromone trails used by ants to find their way home.
Although DEET – diethyl-meta-toluamide – is a highly effective mosquito repellent, it can dissolve man-made fibres and plastics. It is also expensive and inconvenient for use in many parts of Africa, where the need for repellent is greatest.
One of the problems in finding alternatives to DEET is that, until now, scientists have not been sure how the substance works. The study, published in Nature, has however found that DEET triggers a certain kind of nerve receptor called Ir40a, found in the olfactory antenna of insects, which causes them to flee from the chemical’s odour. read more at:http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/secrets-of-insect-repellent-deet-could-prove-decisive-in-the-war-on-malaria-dengue-and-west-nile-fever-8854228.html