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Researchers develop highly effective microwave-activated form of malaria insecticide, overcoming mosquito resistance

by News Staff
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Researchers at New York University have developed an improved crystal form of deltamethrin, a commonly used insecticide for malaria control. By heating the existing form in a microwave for just five minutes, they were able to create a more potent version of the insecticide. In collaboration with the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine and the Innovative Vector Control Consortium, the researchers tested the enhanced deltamethrin on highly insecticide-resistant Anopheles mosquitoes from West Africa. The results were promising, as the more active form proved to be 100% effective against these malaria vectors, a significant improvement over the currently available version, which ranged from 4-14% efficacy.

The rise of insecticide resistance in malaria-transmitting mosquitoes presents a challenge for public health officials. Seeking alternative agents with different mechanisms of action is crucial to staying ahead of resistance. This study suggests a potential solution by restoring the effectiveness of insecticides through the use of more active forms.

Testing the new deltamethrin on five different strains of insecticide-resistant Anopheles mosquitoes, the researchers observed that the mosquitoes were completely controlled within 10-20 minutes of contact. In contrast, the original form of deltamethrin was only 4% effective against three strains within 24 hours and 14% effective against the fourth strain. Additionally, the enhanced deltamethrin maintained its potency for at least 13 months.

The researchers were particularly excited to find that resistant mosquitoes could be controlled using an insecticide they were originally resistant to, without the need for altering its molecular composition or discovering entirely new compounds. This simple yet impactful intervention involves microwaving a commercial product for a short period, resulting in a supercharged insecticide.

Professor Bart Kahr, one of the authors of the study and a chemistry professor at NYU, summarized the findings by stating, “In sum: We buy some commercial product, stick it in a microwave for the time it takes to make popcorn, and it is supercharged. It is a remarkably simple intervention with dramatic consequences.”

Source: New York University

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