US scientists target mosquitoes with nanoparticles
Researchers at the US University of Kansas have been awarded a US patent (8,841,272) for controlling mosquitoes and other insects with double-stranded RNA (dsRNA)-based nanoparticles. Ingested nanoparticles release dsRNA that destroys specific messenger RNA (mRNA). In studies on mosquito larvae, the scientists designed dsRNA to target mRNA encoding enzymes involved in the production of chitin. Developing mosquitoes produced less chitin and were more prone to insecticides. The technique is applicable to other insect pests. "You can design species-specific dsRNA for the same or different genes for other insect pests," says professor of entomology Kun Yan Zhu. "When you make baits containing gene-specific nanoparticles, you may be able to kill the insects through the RNAi pathway. We see this as having really broad applications for insect pest management." The patent is available to license through the Kansas State University Institute for Commercialization.