To prevent mosquito-borne diseases, DARPA develops technology to alter skin structure

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency developed many important technologies to help the U.S. military against the Soviet Union during the Cold War, but now they are starting to guard against another deadly enemy: mosquitoes.

Mosquitoes are one of the deadliest pests in human history. The spread of malaria alone kills about 400,000 people worldwide each year, plus other mosquito-borne diseases, and the toll is considerable.

During the U.S. Civil War, the two militaries estimated that nearly 1.2 million people were infected with malaria, resulting in 8,000 deaths, and the number of infections during the Vietnam War was as high as more than 80,000.

Although the mortality rate of malaria or other diseases transmitted by mosquitoes is not high in terms of current medical technology, the number of infected people will still have an impact on the ability of the army to continue fighting. According to the statistics of the US Army, the current annual loss of working hours caused by malaria alone That’s 21,000 hours, and $1.2 million to $4.4 million in medical bills.

So the Defense Advanced Research Agency (DARPA) research program “ReVector” will develop a new topical drug that blocks malaria and other mosquito-borne infectious diseases from the start of transmission.

DARPA recently issued a statement that the new program “ReVector” has entered the second phase. Through molecular biology technology, the new mosquito repellent is applied topically to the skin, which can penetrate into the internal microflora, temporarily change the microbial structure, and make mosquitoes lose interest.

Beginning with Phase 2, DARPA has used animals to test the effects of ReVector topical, testing the new drug’s penetration into more complex skin tissues and microbiota, as well as its effects on mosquito behavior.

DARPA said that ReVector’s goal is to develop a long-lasting mosquito repellant that can last for 2 months, so that U.S. troops performing missions in mosquito-infested areas do not have to worry about the risk of getting sick from mosquito bites and having to interrupt mission evacuations.

The actual utility of ReVector remains to be confirmed by DARPA’s follow-up research results.

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