News Mash: Surprisingly, black fly spit could be both a poison…And a cure!

When it comes to spit,…

Ant spit?


You would be fairly surprised to learn that there not only is such a thing as ant spit being a good thing:

[via TheNakedScientist]Chemical Cocktail in Fly Saliva

A cocktail of chemicals found in the saliva of black fly could help us to develop better drugs, and maybe even a vaccine, against river blindness.
River blindness, or Onchocerciasis as it’s also known, affects 17 million people worldwide, and is the world’s third leading infectious cause of blindness.  It’s caused by a nematode parasite called Onchocerca volvulus, which is transmitted in the bite of the Black Fly.

Writing in the Journal of Proteome Research, José Ribeiro from the Laboratory of Malaria and Vector Research at the US National Institute of Health and colleagues, looked at the cocktail of proteins in Black Fly saliva.  The saliva of biting insects is well adapted to the job and contains anticlotting, antiplatelet, vasodilatory, antiinflammatory, and immunomodulatory components.  These help to stop the host’s immune system reacting while the fly gets it’s feed.

The team sequenced the genes found in Black Fly salivary glands, to find out what proteins were expressed in saliva, and then worked out which of these were excreted, rather than just used for housekeeping inside the gland.They found that there is some overlap with the proteins found in other blood-feeding insects, as you would expect, as well as a large amount of unique genes.  This in itself gives us an insight into how blood-feeding evolved and diversified, allowing the insect to adapt to pressure from the host’s immune system.

Several new protein families were discovered, many of which have pharmacologic potential to be developed into new medicines.

…[Read More]

Science Note: But there are (unsurprisingly) instances…

Where too much of this “good thing”

Could be perceived as a “bad thing” for us by Scientists.

Two words for you, Scientists:

Duh. Obviously.

[via io9]Too many fly bites can lead to death by bug-spit poisoning ~by  Esther Inglis-ArkellEnough spit

It seems every day there are new revelations about horrible ways we can die. Today? Simuliotoxicosis. That’s just toxic shock syndrome, which could be associated with anything. But lately, it has been especially associated with mass attacks of black flies. They can bite an animal – or human – so much that their saliva causes death.

In Louisiana, in 2010, twenty birds were brought into a zoological medical department with hundreds of tiny little hemorrhages under their skin. About half of them died. The staff diagnosed an acute outbreak of black flies in the area. It’s not actually surprising that one of the plagues of Egypt was flies. Black flies live in most rivers, and plant parasites that live in the human body, devastating it over time. Untreated, the parasites can cause pains, organ failure, and blindness over the life of the sufferer. But they can dish out an even more horrible death.

Black flies latch on when they eat, and can’t be removed until they’re done. Of course, they can be swatted, but that’s not so easy when there are hundreds of them. Even if they don’t exsanguinate animals outright, or shoot them up with debilitating larvae parasites, they are injecting something into their food source. Black flies’ saliva contains a cocktail of drugs. They have an anticoagulant component, a compound that keeps the area from swelling up, and a special compound that dilates the capillaries in the area to let blood flow more quickly. None of these should hurt a normal animal experiencing a single bite. It’s a different story when we’re talking about hundreds of bites over a couple of hours. Eventually the skin does swell up in response to a storm of white blood cells. The capillaries do the same, swelling until they’re destroyed. Hemorrhaging begins under the skin, and at last the heart gives out. Although the hundreds of tiny wounds, and the attendant exposure to infection, can’t help – overall the body is responding to the massive amount of tiny doses of drugs. An animal, or even a person, can die of bug spit poisoning.

…[Read More]

A whole post, with two vastly different articles regarding black fly spit?


In all the internet…

Who would have thought such a thing possible?

But here, at Anguished Repose, it’s how we roll.

Cause we love learning new things, even if it IS just about fly spit.

Not sure, now that I think about it, what that says about us…

But there you go.

Know enough to be dangerous [Source]