Mosquitoes have caused the deaths of more people than all the wars in history. And while bed nets and insecticides have helped stifle the spread of deadly diseases like malaria, researchers have spent years working on snazzier bug repellents and sprays.
With the steep financial and regulatory hurdles, however, that's just buzz for now. Businessweek reports.
Many new options being explored impair or manipulate a mosquito's sense of smell. They can detect us by smelling for the carbon dioxide we exhale. Their 80 or so odor receptors are all tuned to specific scents ranging from cholesterol on our skin to body odors emitted by beer drinkers.
The Kite Patch by Olfactor Laboratories, for example, is a 1.5-inch-square sticker that renders us invisible to mosquitoes for up to 48 hours. It's infused with non-toxic compounds that block their ability to detect carbon dioxide. But it won't be on the market until it undergoes third-party safety and effectiveness testing.
Then there's this compound called VUAA1, which turns on all the mosquito's smell receptors at once, causing a sensory overload. It may be 100,000 times more effective than DEET. But despite the progress, it'll be a while before new repellents and compounds hit the market and replace DEET (a real game changer, but with concerns about potential toxicity).
The big holdup has to do with the prohibitive costs of entering the bug spray market, which could be as high as $200 million. Why so expensive?
Until scientists and companies find something that meets all those needs... we probably won't get a better bug spray.
Image: tanakawho via Flick
This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com