MALARIA BREAKTHROUGH: Scientists say changing a human’s ‘flavour’ could save millions

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Using the findings, experts hope the research can now be conducted into what would make a human taste disgusting to the disease-carrying mosquitos.

They then hope a substance can be developed to put them off feasting on our blood.

The advance could save 450,000 lives a year by stopping the bugs from infecting people with the deadly infection which is transmitted through the bite of the female Anopheles gambiae mosquito.

Last year, experts estimated that 214 million people, mostly in Africa, are affected by malaria, for which there is no vaccine.

While treatment can be effective in the early stages of the infection, tackling the illness is expensive and difficult to deliver to the places where it is most needed.

Researcher Christopher Potter said: “All mosquitoes, including the one that transmits malaria, use their sense of smell to find a host for a blood meal.

“Our goal is to let the mosquitoes tell us what smells they find repulsive and use those to keep them from biting us.”

The scientists used a powerful genetic technique to make smell-detecting neurons in the insects’ brains “glow” green when they were around humans as opposed to other warm-blooded animals.

The scientists were surprised to see an area of the mosquitoes’ brains previously only associated with taste light up when they smelt people.

Mr Potter said: “That finding suggests that perhaps mosquitoes don’t just like our smell, but also our flavour.

“It’s likely that the odourants coming off our skin are picked up by the labella and influence the preferred taste of our skin, especially when the mosquito is looking for a place to bite.”

He added: “We hope to find an odourant that is safe and pleasant-smelling for us but strongly repellant to mosquitoes at very low concentrations.”

Daily Express :: Weird Feed

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