A team of researchers from the CSIR-National Chemical Laboratory (CSIR-NCL), Pune, has synthesized a potent molecule that helps repel adult females of Aedes aegypti mosquitoes.
These mosquitoes are vectors of several debilitating and often fatal diseases like dengue and chikungunya and are also vectors of the Zika virus. During the Covid-19 pandemic, several states in India reported an alarming increase in dengue, chikungunya, and Zika virus cases, putting an additional burden on the already stretched medical facilities.
A research team led by Dr D S Reddy, who is currently director of CSIR-Indian Institute of Integrative Medicine, Jammu, used the “silicon switch” approach to synthesize a library of compounds based on the DEET scaffold, which is the gold standard of insect repellents. Of the 25 compounds synthesized, one of the molecules (NDS100100) offered a longer protection time than DEET (N,N-Diethyl-meta-toluamide), suggesting that incorporation of silicon improves efficacy. Results of this study have been published in ACS Omega.
The lead authors of the paper, Dr Sen and Dr Reddy, are confident about the prospects of the findings. However, the identified molecule needs to undergo several studies, including long-term safety assessment, before it reaches the market. Discussions are underway with some leading companies to take forward this insect repellent molecule for further studies towards commercialization. The research team included Akshay S Kulkarni, Remya Ramesh, Safal Walia, Shahebaz I Sayyad, Ganesh B Gathalkar, Seetharamsing Balamkundu, Manali Joshi, Avalokiteswar Sen, and D Srinivasa Reddy, according to a statement issued Wednesday.