Israeli scientists have developed an innovative new approach to repelling mosquitoes, potentially reducing the transmission of mosquito-borne diseases worldwide. The novel ‘chemical camouflage,’ which uses indole, a compound found in various plants and animals, shows promise in keeping these bothersome pests at bay.
The method relies on indole, an aromatic heterocyclic organic compound. Indole is present in many substances, including the essential amino acid tryptophan and indigo dye, and is produced by numerous bacteria. Interestingly, indole is also a constituent of human sweat and is suspected to play a role in mosquito attraction.
However, recent research has shown that higher concentrations of indole can confuse or repel mosquitoes. The scientists from Israel have leveraged this discovery and developed a system that uses indole as a form of ‘chemical camouflage,’ masking our natural human scent and making us less attractive to mosquitoes.
In this newly developed system, the indole is incorporated into a cellulose matrix. The cellulose, a common and safe material often found in plants, serves as a slow-release medium for the indole. When the cellulose absorbs moisture from the air or skin, it releases the indole gradually, providing a long-lasting repellent effect.
While further research and testing are needed, this development is an exciting step forward in the fight against mosquito-borne diseases like malaria, dengue, and Zika virus. If successful, the indole-cellulose system could be used in wearable devices, patches, or other mosquito repelling products, providing a practical and efficient solution to a global problem.
The researchers’ innovative use of a common compound in a new context is a testament to the ongoing advancements in the field. The ‘chemical camouflage’ approach could not only change our fight against mosquitoes but might also lead to insights and advancements in managing other pests.