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Scientists Identify DEET's Neuron Scrambling Ability in Insects
Posted: September 26, 2011
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The team found that an odorant receptor (OR59B) on the olfactory neurons in the insensitive flies differs from the receptors in sensitive strains by just one amino acid, but they think this is enough to make the flies insensitive to DEET. This showed the researchers that DEET can directly interact with odorant receptors.
Because their research focused on Drosophilia, it may not directly explain the mechanism behind repelling mosquitos. The team would like to find a new chemical that is safer and can be used at lower doses. They are now screening chemical libraries for such molecules to find one that shuts down the mosquito's olfactory system, and they reportedly have some leads.