Compound may offer new deterrent to mosquitoes

by Kalani Simpson, UNMC public relations | January 27, 2017

Image with file name: Hopkins01241.jpg

Mosquitoes buzz, bite, suck our blood, make us itch and worst of all spread serious, even deadly diseases, like chikungunya, dengue, malaria, yellow fever and Zika.

And if that isn't enough?

"A lot of people don't realize that mosquitoes have kidneys, and when they take a blood meal from you they also urinate on you almost simultaneously," Jerod Denton, Ph.D., of Vanderbilt University Medical Center, told NIH Research Matters.

Eww.

But now, UNMC is helping humans get revenge.

Corey Hopkins, Ph.D., associate professor of pharmaceutical sciences, working out of the College of Pharmacy's UNMC Center for Drug Discovery, joins Dr. Denton and Peter Piermarini, Ph.D., at Ohio State, on a project that targets this, ahem, kidney function.

"They can actually give you a disease and pee on you at the same time," Dr. Denton told Scientific American.

OK! We get the picture!

Only, with the work being done by Dr. Hopkins and his colleagues, they can't do that.

And that's bad for the mosquitoes.

When mosquitoes suck your blood, they take in nutrients, but they also must eliminate the bad stuff immediately. That means . . . well, you know.

But compounds designed and synthesized in Dr. Hopkins' lab have been found to block kidney function in mosquitoes. Which means they can't . . .

Ahem.

Unable to flush out the system, they swell up, toxins taking them out from the inside. Some even literally burst.

Dr. Hopkins sends compounds he makes to Dr. Denton for pharmacology testing, who sends them on to Dr. Piermarini for work on unsuspecting mosquitoes.

Their study in the Nature-affiliated journal Scientific Reports calls it an "insecticide resistance-breaking mosquitocide." That's important, because mosquitoes are developing resistance to the stuff we fight them with now.

Thus far the compounds look safe for mammals and honeybees, but further testing is needed.

It's the kind of world-leading impact envisioned by UNMC leadership and benefactors when planning the Center for Drug Discovery.

Dr. Hopkins said: "It is an exciting project to be involved with using my experience in medicinal chemistry to design new compounds with a novel mechanism of action in order to potentially make a major impact against these devastating diseases."

And, ahem, other stuff.

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Isabel Jasinowski
January 30, 2017 at 8:49 PM

Dear Corey--Important work you're doing, and Jerry and I are very proud! Love, Isabel & Jerry

Jerod Denton
January 28, 2017 at 9:11 AM

Great article Corey! Thanks for sharing Rodolfo!

Ted Roche
January 27, 2017 at 9:28 AM

Nice, ahem, work, Corey.