TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Researchers at the University of Arizona say they made a new discovery that could pave the way to develop birth control for mosquitoes.
A team at the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry said they found a protein in female mosquitoes that is important to their reproduction cycle.
Researchers blocked the protein and when the mosquito laid eggs the shells were defective, leading to the death of the embryos inside.
Roger Miesfeld who runs the lab where the discovery was made said the discovery is exciting but just the first step in a long process.
The team -- led by Dr. Jun Isoe -- is now working on developing a drug that could eventually become an insecticide.
In turn, Miesfeld said this could lead to an effect on the mosquito population worldwide.
“Mosquito control is important. They’re certainly pests. Nobody likes to go for a picnic and get bit but get a dengue outbreak or Zika or even Rift Valley fever by these same mosquitoes would be devastating,” he said.
Miesfeld said the protein discovered is only found in mosquitoes; therefore, it would not harm other insects such as honey bees. He added the drug could be ready within five to 10 years.