Man, I need to write a grant like that and get some of that Gates money./...
----Original Message Follows----
From: "Don & Cathy Weber" <weber@...
Subject: [ujeni] Malaria, etc.
Date: Tue, 6 Dec 2005 18:33:40 -0800
Hey Paul, here's a novel approach for the malaria fight, one that Gates
Foundation is funding. I'm reading a lot about malaria recently; seems to
be getting newly invigorated scientific attention. Too bad we don't have it
here anymore like we have TB and AIDS, eee??? Scientific American has an
article on it this month. The Gobal Fund has made it and TB on somewhat of
a par with HIV, don't you think?
And David, we couldn't get that video to work...it kept stalling. We ate
them but don't really miss those termites, does anyone else? Interesting
article to me, though, since I used to work daily in that TB ward at Queens.
Dr. Richard Axel of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute at Columbia
University and Dr. Laurence J. Zwiebel of Vanderbilt University are both
experts in insects' sense of smell. (Dr. Axel shared a 2004 Nobel Prize for
working out how odors arouse the brain.)
Their complementary projects - Dr. Axel received $5 million and Dr. Zwiebel
$8.5 million - have identified the genes that produce 79 odor receptors in
Now they will seek to build what Dr. Zwiebel described as "a stand-alone
mosquito-nose platform" - essentially, an antenna fragment in a petri dish -
and to implant mosquito odor-receptor genes into fruit flies, which are
easier to study.
Then they will test thousands of small molecules on these artificial or
fly-borne "noses" to find chemicals that either block or overwhelm them.
Dr. Axel argued at the conference that blocking one receptor - the one that
detects the carbon dioxide in human breath - might be enough to discourage
Dr. Zwiebel argued that, since human sweat contains 150 different compounds,
a cocktail of several blockers would be needed, both to encourage mosquitoes
to bite other carbon dioxide-exhaling animals, like cows, and to make it
harder for mosquitoes to evolve resistance to a single blocker.
One advantage of what Dr. Axel termed "olfacticides," which could be sprayed
on the skin or soaked into mosquito nets, is that they are unlikely to be as
toxic to humans as insecticides are.
A potential disadvantage is that odor-blockers could, for example, render
pollinating insects like bees unable to smell plants.
It may also be possible, Dr. Zwiebel said, to find scents even more alluring
than human sweat.
"Imagine," he said, "a village with a vat of DDT laced with compounds so
attractive that it would become a mosquito motel: they'd check in, but they
wouldn't check out."