If It Can’t Pee, It Won’t Bite Me

Cornell researchers have found a protein that may lead to a new way to control mosquitoes that spread dengue fever, yellow fever and other diseases when they feed on humans: Prevent them from urinating as they feed on blood. (American Journal of Physiology, March 4, 2010).

The article by Piermarini et. al is titled “A SLC4-like anion exchanger from renal tubules of the mosquito (Aedes aegypti): evidence for a novel role of stellate cells in diuretic fluid secretion” but the folks at newswise have done a good job at translating the article into layman’s terms. To sum it up in a nutshell, after sucking your blood (and leaving you with that irritating itch) mosquitoes need to urinate in order to get rid of the high salt concentration found in human blood or they will die. If you stop them from peeing, they won’t be able to fly away and spread diseases such a malaria to other unsuspecting victims. Let’s think about this for a second. In order to be effective, the mosquito will have to bite someone and draw blood which will lead to the build up of salt in his system and end in his final demise. Sounds great for humanity, but it’s still a bummer for the poor fella who gets bitten and ends up suffering from that terrible itch.

Did anyone say “pass the Calamine?”

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