UA Researchers: Mosquito-Borne Viruses May Be Prevented With Birth Control

By Chloe Jones
Published: Tuesday, January 8, 2019 - 8:51pm
Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2019 - 9:59am
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Reports of the Zika virus, a disease spread by mosquitoes, have more than doubled in November 2018 in Sonora, Mexico, neighboring the Arizona border, but researchers at the University of Arizona just had a breakthrough that could potentially prevent the spread of Zika and other mosquito-borne diseases — using birth control. 

Researchers identified a protein, specific to the mosquito that carries Zika and Dengue, that is responsible for the eggshell. Roger Miesfeld is a chemistry and biochemistry professor at the University of Arizona and one of the leaders on the project.

“The eggshell that she made is porous and does not protect the embryo. So when she lays the eggs, even though she does lay eggs, the eggs are defective and the embryo doesn’t hatch," said Miesfeld.

“The first important thing is it’s unique to mosquitoes, so that will be great for developing insecticides. The second thing is it affects her ability to lay viable eggs, and the third and most interesting and surprising to us was that we only had to inhibit the protein once.”

Miesfeld said he hopes that this can be a new tool to reduce the population of mosquitoes below a threshold so that the transmission between mosquitoes and humans are limited.

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