Who would have thought it? The Aedes aegypti mosquito, a vector of dengue, zika and chikungunya does have a good side. Researchers at the University of São Paulo (USP) have discovered anti-inflammatory substances in its saliva capable of controlling immunity and treating intestinal diseases, such as ulcerative colitis – in rodents, at least.
The study, which took place at USP’s Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences in Ribeirão Preto, gave rise to a doctoral thesis and an article published in the scientific journal International Immunopharmacology.
Researchers will now attempt to identify the exact molecules in the saliva that have this therapeutic action. According to immunologist Cristina Cardoso, who supervised the study, there is a “cocktail” of substances in the saliva of the Aedes aegypti that are still being identified.
Once these molecules have been identified, the aim is to extract them and synthesize them in a laboratory, in order to then study them in clinical trials with human participants.
Anderson de Sá Nunes, a professor at USP’s Institute of Biomedical Sciences, is trying to raise funds to create a company that would perform the pre-clinical trials – testing on non-human animals, before the drugs are tested on humans.
After the identification and sequencing of the molecule, production can either be carried out using “biofabrics”, made from fungi or bacteria, or artificial synthesizers, depending on the complexity of the molecule.
According to Nunes, the new drug based on mosquito saliva was also successful in the treatment of diseases such as autoimmune hepatitis and multiple sclerosis. As with ulcerative colitis, both of these diseases have a significant inflammatory element.
-source Folha de S.Paulo