A recent Gizmag article interested me on several levels. Many of us with CLL seem to overreact to mosquito bites and end up with large itchy weals, plus of course we all need to be particularly vigilant to avoid mosquito borne diseases. So it is great to hear of an improved research technique that will help us produce better repellents. To quote: "New research explores how a mosquito’s neurons actually detect humans, and presents a promising class of chemicals, screened for safety, cost, and an appealing scent, some of which attract mosquitoes and others of which mask the smell of tasty human skin."
However, what most captured my attention was the 90 second video, where the very enthusiastic researcher Genevieve Tauxe, demonstrates how they monitored the rate of electrical firing by the mosquito's sensor neurons so that sensitivity to different molecules could be determined. While the audio quality isn't the best, the video clearly shows how specific gas molecules trigger the mosquito's interest in her victims and how other gas molecules can actually inhibit this response. While I can understand conceptually how specific proteins can trigger different cellular functions, I found watching this video gave me a much more practical understanding of how the small molecule drugs, currently creating such interest in CLL treatments, can trigger CLL cell death.
Now how neat is that!
The Welcome Swallows in the photo were taking a welcome break from zipping around over a nearby pond - hopefully feeding on mosquitoes!