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November 2015

Nanotechnology Approach in Mosquito-Borne Disease Detection

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A UCF College of Medicine researcher, Bradley Willenberg, has designed a new mosquito surveillance tool that attracts the insects, diagnoses those carrying disease, and turns them a different color as a warning system to residents in at-risk areas throughout the world.

Willenberg and his team are working with Sudipta Seal, UCF’s interim chair of the Materials Science and Engineering Department, director of UCF’s Advanced Materials Processing Analysis Center and NanoScience Technology Center. Seal and his team will provide the nanotechnology expertise and create nanostructures that will react to a specific disease protein present in infected mosquitoes.

The trap would exude an odorous blend that is especially attractive to specific species of disease-carrying mosquitoes. Once inside the trap, the mosquito will encounter a wick-based device Willenberg helped invent. The wick would be soaked with a red-colored sugar water that mosquitoes love to consume. But the food also contains modified microscopic gold nanoparticles that will react to specific proteins found in a disease. If the mosquito carries the disease, as it feeds, its enlarging belly would turn from red to blue. Mosquitoes that don’t carry the disease would stay red. Insecticide would also be in the solution and would kill the insects within a matter of minutes. By looking in the trap, residents of at-risk areas would be able to see the colors of the dead mosquitoes and know if their community has disease-carrying species – without having to send the dead insects to a lab for analysis. The numbers of blue insects in the trap would indicate the seriousness of the infestation.

For more information on the mosquito surveillance tool, you can navigate to the original news article on UCFToday.

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