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Blood Sucker Roundup

August 19, 2011

Diseases spread by mosquitoes plague millions of people. But what if people could make mosquitoes sick instead?



A mosquito’s last meal. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Mosquitoes spread malaria and other diseases by biting an infected person and picking up the disease germs, incubating the germs in their bodies, and then transmitting them to the next victim they bite. But what if there were no next victim? In the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, scientists report on a compound that gives mosquitoes a lethal case of indigestion as soon as they suck blood. They hope to develop a pill that people in malaria-affected countries could take, so that a mosquito’s first victim would be its last.

In other blood sucking news, researchers report in the journal Nature that they’ve discovered how vampire bats know where to bite their prey. The same protein receptor that makes people sensitive to spicy food has been adapted in the bats to detect slight differences in warmth that indicate veins. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.