Mosquitoes transmit pathogens that cause dengue, malaria, and other diseases that present significant risks to the readiness and resilience of military personnel, and public health more generally. The ReVector program aims to maintain the health of military personnel operating in disease-endemic regions by reducing attraction and feeding by mosquitoes.
Mosquitoes are attracted to the general area of humans by volatiles emitted in human breath. However, it is the heat and volatile molecules from human skin that direct mosquitoes to the specific sites on the body where they feed. Many of those volatile molecules are produced by the metabolism of organisms in the skin microbiome. Researchers on the ReVector program are working to develop precise, safe, and efficacious technologies to modulate the profile of skin-associated volatile molecules by changing the organisms that are present in the skin microbiome and/or their metabolic processes.
Although other approaches already exist to slow the spread of vector-borne disease (e.g., bed nets, chemical repellants, anti-malarial drugs), they each have logistical burdens or side effects that make them impractical for use during military deployments. For example, the requirements for frequent reapplication of repellants or repeat dosing of drugs often result in inconsistent protection. In contrast, the envisioned ReVector treatments could be applied just hours before a mission with minimal equipment or training, would produce no detectable odor, and would last for up to two weeks without reapplication, offering improved, sustained protection against disease vectors.
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