Viral diseases spread by an arthropod vector are exceedingly difficult to control and counter. In a recently published study, researchers at Washington State University discovered a new way to control viral proliferation within arthropod vectors - by stimulating the immune system. Using genetic screening, they discovered an insulin-like receptor that is part of the arbovirus immune system. When stimulated, the receptor activates the JAK/STAT pathway - a key component of the antiviral innate immune response. With increased JAK/STAT activation, the arthropods demonstrated enhanced ability to prevent viral replication. The researchers started by looking at West Nile in fruit flies, and once that proved successful, they studied the effects of insulin on mosquitoes and found that it suppressed West Nile, Zika and dengue. This research has tremendous implications on the prevention of virulent ARBO diseases Most notably, deadly flaviviruses such as West Nile, Dengue and Zika are all spread by arthropods. Because there is no ‘cure’ for any of these diseases, prevention is the best/only way to limit casualties. Mosquito populations have proven difficult to control, necessitating alternative methods of limiting the spread of viral diseases.
~ Avi KayeArticle: Ahlers, L., Trammel, C., Carrell, G. et al. Insulin Potentiates JAK/STAT Signaling to Broadly Inhibit Flavivirus Replication in Insect Vectors. Cell Reports, 2019: 29(7): 1946-1960.