Sufferers of gout--a painful joint disease--may soon share their medicine with cockroaches. Scientists at the Agricultural Research Service's Entomology Laboratory in Gainesville, Fla., have used a gout drug, called allopurinol, to wipe out an entire roach population in just four to six weeks.
In gout patients, crystallized slivers of uric acid form around the joints. Allopurinol prevents this painful buildup by reducing the amount of uric acid formed in the body. The link to cockroaches is that the female pests need uric acid to develop embryos within their eggs. In the ARS tests, roaches that ate rat chow laced with the gout drug could not reproduce.
Several companies have expressed interest in the pest control, says ARS entomologist Daniel R. Suiter. He envisions using bait, made from distiller's grain or peanut butter, that's laced with the drug. One benefit: Human toxicology studies on the 30-year old drug have already been completed.