The quest for rat poisons that mimic the Pied Piper's magic flute

Jan 12, 2011

Scientists dream of developing a real-world version of the Pied Piper's magic flute — new poisons that pose no threat to people, pets or wildlife, while specifically targeting rats, those germ-laden creatures that outnumber humans 6 to 1 in some urban areas. An article in the current edition of Chemical & Engineering News (C&EN), ACS' weekly newsmagazine, details some of the steps toward that goal.

C&EN Associate Editor Jyllian Kemsley points out that not only are notorious carriers of infectious disease, but threaten the survival of native plants and wildlife. Modern rat poisons, often based on anticoagulants, are effective. However, these substances can harm people and other animals and rats are developing resistance, so that they shrug off the effects of existing anticoagulants. The poisons thus may hurt other animals while leaving rats alive to continue their rampage.

The article explains that one of the major challenges today involves tracking whether and how much of a rodenticide is being consumed by rats or by other animals. Scientists are reporting progress on this front, which includes use of special fluorescent dyes to track how much bait rodents are eating and studying the fecal samples of their predators to identify contamination routes. Research also involves mutations in a gene that allows some rats to develop resistance to anticoagulants. These and other studies could lead to safer rat killers, the article suggests.

Explore further: Rooting out horse-meat fraud in the wake of a recent food scandal

More information: "Regulating Rodents" This story is available at pubs.acs.org/cen/science/89/8902sci2.html

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Smelling a rat to catch a rat

Mar 24, 2008

A novel experiment using laboratory rats to attract wild rats could pave the way for “rat perfumed” bait capable of reducing the millions of rats threatening New Zealand’s native species, say Massey ...

Scientists find city rats are loyal to their 'hoods'

May 26, 2009

In the rat race of life, one thing is certain: there's no place like home. Now, a study just released in Molecular Ecology finds the same is true for rats. Although inner city rodents appear to roam freely ...

Freeing protein-based drugs from bacteria's natural traps

Oct 13, 2008

In a finding that could speed the development of new protein-based drugs for fighting diabetes, hepatitis, and other diseases, researchers are reporting progress toward preventing or destroying an unusual structure that reduces ...

Recommended for you

A refined approach to proteins at low resolution

Sep 19, 2014

Membrane proteins and large protein complexes are notoriously difficult to study with X-ray crystallography, not least because they are often very difficult, if not impossible, to crystallize, but also because ...

Base-pairing protects DNA from UV damage

Sep 19, 2014

Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich researchers have discovered a further function of the base-pairing that holds the two strands of the DNA double helix together: it plays a crucial role in protecting ...

Smartgels are thicker than water

Sep 19, 2014

Transforming substances from liquids into gels plays an important role across many industries, including cosmetics, medicine, and energy. But the transformation process, called gelation, where manufacturers ...

Separation of para and ortho water

Sep 18, 2014

(Phys.org) —Not all water is equal—at least not at the molecular level. There are two versions of the water molecule, para and ortho water, in which the spin states of the hydrogen nuclei are different. ...

User comments : 0