LSTM Researchers develop chemical probes to help with the problem of insecticide resistance

News article 19 Nov 2013

Researchers from LSTM have developed new chemical probes to pinpoint the genes involved in insecticide metabolism in order to combat the spread of insecticide resistance in disease causing organisms such as mosquitoes.

Drs Mark Paine and Hanafy Ismail and Professor Janet Hemingway worked with researchers from the University of Liverpool, the University of Dundee, Northumbria University, the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and the Scripps Research Institute in developing a suite of pyrethroid mimetic activity-based probes (PyABPs) to label and identify the enzymes that metabolise the pyrethroid class of insecticides.

Pyrethroids are highly potent insecticides present in malaria bednets, flea powders and many thousands of registered products worldwide to control diseases spread by insects. Such overuse has led to the rapid evolution of insecticide resistance.  The study, which is published in the Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) this week, looks at the development of probes that specifically target and identify  pyrethroid-metabolizing enzymes, molecules that are strongly associated with insecticide resistance . Importantly, these probes may be predictive in finding resistance genes before they actually become a problem, opening the door to early resistance surveillance.

Lead author, Dr Mark Paine, said: “In 2012, largely in response to escalating pyrethroid resistance, the World Health Organisation (WHO) launched an international call to action with its Global Plan for Insecticide Resistance Management for Malaria Vectors. The probes that we have synthesized and tested could potentially be used in almost any organism for the rapid identification of pyrethroid metabolising genes, thus enabling us to develop new tools for controlling the spread of disease. Indeed, in susceptible species, these probes may be able to find out which genes are likely to evolve into resistance allowing us to take early measures to halt the process. “


paine pnas november 19th