The scientists at Vanderbilt University in Nashville say they stumbled upon a unique and previously unknown way all insects detect odors.
Further research found a new class of repellent that overloads that ability.
This would prevent mosquitoes, and any other insects, from being able to track the scent of human blood and bite their victims.
Further research is said to be necessary to see if it is commercially viable, or if a similar compound would work better.
The findings were reported in the online Early Edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.