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Study explains why some people are ‘mosquito magnets’ and may always be that way

According to a recent study that was published in the journal Cell, certain people truly are ‘mosquito magnets,’ and this is likely due to the way they smell.

Everybody has specific body odours, and each person has a distinctive fragrance profile made up of several chemicals that affect how attractive a person is to mosquitoes.

According to study that was released on Tuesday, mosquitoes are particularly attracted to persons whose skin produces a lot of carboxylic acids. According to author Leslie Vosshall of Rockefeller University in New York, ‘If you have high amounts of this substance on your skin, you’re going to be the one at the picnic getting all the bites.’

The neurobiologist and mosquito expert also pointed out that there was a lot of folklore on the subject of some people being mosquito magnets but not enough evidence.

Furthermore, despite prior theories about the body odour phenomena, according to Vosshall, scientists have not been able to determine which particular odours mosquitoes prefer.

As a result, Maria Elena De Obaldia, a senior scientist at the biotech business Kingdom Supercultures and the study’s primary author, set out to explore this occurrence and created an experiment.

According to the study’s principal author, each participant’s distinct scent was recorded after wearing nylon stockings around their forearms for at least six hours. Subsequently, they cut out pieces of nylon and placed two samples from different participants at the end of a long tube in a closed container full of female Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, which spread diseases like yellow fever, Zika and dengue.

The research went on for months and they even collected new samples from the volunteers when needed, said Vosshall. The study concluded that some people were more attractive to the mosquitoes than others and dubbed Subject 33 (a participant in the study) as the biggest mosquito magnet whose scent was notably 100 times more attractive to the mosquitoes than the least attractive subject.

Subsequently, the researchers analysed the participants’ scent profiles to examine the reason for this vast difference and found a common factor that the mosquito magnets produced higher levels of carboxylic acids when compared to their least attractive counterparts. According to Vosshall, these ‘greasy molecules’ help keep our skin moisturised and protected, however, different people produce them in different amounts.


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