High-Throughput Screening Platform for Identification of Insect Repellents

Executive Summary:

High-throughput screening platform identifies repellent compounds that activate specific insect odor receptors. This platform can identify pyrethrins and pyrethroids to combine with odorant-mediated repellents to enhance overall repellant activity.



Mosquitoes transmit a number of dangerous diseases to humans (malaria, dengue, yellow fever, Zika virus) and animals (dog heartworm, equine encephalitis, West Nile virus). In order to reduce disease transmission, insect repellents are used to prevent mosquitos from making contact with humans and animals. However, mosquitoes can become resistant to insect repellents over time so developing new repellents is essential for protecting human and animal health.


Description of Technology:

One commonly used group of insect repellents are pyrethrins, naturally derived compounds from Chrysanthemum cinerariifolium, and pyrethroids, synthetic analogs of the pyrethrins. Dr. Dong and colleagues identified the mechanism of pyrethrin and pyrethroid repellency, which includes the activation of specific olfactory receptor neurons and the sub-lethal activation of voltage-gated sodium channels. The identification of this pathway allowed for the development of a high-throughput screening platform for the identification of compounds that activate these neurons. The platform includes two systems: Drosophila empty neuron system coupled with single sensillum recording and Xenopus oocyte expression system coupled with the two-electrode voltage clamp technique. This screening platform can be used to identify new repellent compounds that can be coupled with repellents with different odorant-mediated mechanisms to enhance overall repellent activity.


Key Benefits

  • High-throughput screening platform allows for the screening of many compounds per day
  • Combination of pyrethrins/pyrethroids with other odorant-mediated repellent enhances overall repellency



  • Screening system for identifying and developing insect repellents
  • Insect repellents of pyrethrins/pyrethroids combined with other odorant-mediated repellents


Related publications:

A dual-target molecular mechanism of pyrethrum repellency against mosquitoes. Liu et al., 2021. Nat. Comm. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-021-22847-0


Protection Status: US patent application pending


Tech ID: TEC2020-0110

Patent Information:

For Information, Contact:

Julia Miller
AgBio Technology Manager
Michigan State University