U.S. Department of Agriculture

Diet pills make mosquitoes skip meals, potentially reducing the spread of disease

Around the world, the whine of mosquito wings can mean disease or even death. But what if they stopped biting? Now, researchers have developed a drug that causes mosquitoes to lose interest in sucking blood, The Atlantic reports. Researchers discovered that human appetite suppression drugs had the same effect on mosquitoes. After tweaking the drugs so they would only work on mosquitoes, the study authors tested them. Mosquitoes (Aedes aegypti) treated with the new drug showed no interest in biting sleeping mice in the lab, the researchers reported yesterday in Cell. However, this technique is not without limitations. The effects of a dose wear off after a few days and the compound would need to be administered to millions of mosquitoes to make a dent. If researchers can surmount these hurdles, the world could have a potent new weapon in the fight against diseases like malaria, Zika virus, and dengue fever.

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