Head lice are the plague that scares parents of school-age children every year. They usually try everything, home remedies, pediculicides, fine combs every day and far and so on. It seems that Argentine scientists from CIPEIN-CONICET have succeeded in developing the first pediculicide using nanotechnology that kills lice and nets in just ten minutes.
“The new pediculicide composition is a product based on silicon nanoparticles that are immersed in an ester base with low viscosity. This product affects the lice’s cuticles (exterior coatings in humans), so it is a non-toxic product for humans, ”said Dr María Inés Picollo, head of the Insect Unit of the Pest and Insecticide Laboratory. (CIPEIN-CONICET).
Silicon nanoparticles are at least a million times smaller than millimeters in size. These nanoparticles attach to the muscles of the lice and cause irreversible damage as they are absorbed by the cuticles of insects and alter their hydrophobic functions. Thus, the lice cannot hold the water needed to survive and end up dying of dehydration.
“Research conducted by CIPEIN’s CONICET researchers has shown that exposure to head lice to silicon from nanoparticles causes the death of exposed insects. Microscopic examination of dead insects shows a combined nanosilica that adheres well to the outside needs of the lice. “It is proposed that nanoparticles adsorb to the cuticles thanks to their physical properties, convert hydrophobic functions into peripheral bones and thus produce skin damage and death due to drying”, said Dr. Picollo.
The product works immediately, “thanks to the increased effect between the nanoparticles and the base of the composition”. “It is very important to wear it on dry hair. The recommended exposure time is 10 minutes and after that time it is washed with a common shampoo, says Dr. Picollo us.
“Nanoparticles are too small in size and irregular in shape. At this scale, materials show new properties such as changes in electrical conductivity, surface activity and reactivity. “It’s an excellent story about the activity of nanoparticles in lice, such as nanosyl, one of the most common substances on earth, which has been used as a medicinal and veterinary medicine for years and has recently been recommended in insect management,” said Dr. Picollo.
“In the development of new pediculicidal formulations,” says Dr. Picollo continued, “we were looking for compounds that affected specific insect organs, such as the external skeleton or cuticles. On the other hand, nanotechnology now represents a very promising device for pest control. As an example of this application we can mention the design and use of nanocarbon alumina (AltwoOR3 NP) to control stored grain pests, carried out by Argentine scientists belonging to the Laboratory of Toxicology at the Medical Institute and Experimental Biology in Cuyo (under the direction of Dr. Stadler). On this basis, we investigated the lice activity of nanoparticles or nanosilicon silicon, which has been used as a medicinal and veterinary medicine for many years and was recently recommended for the control of insecticides domestically and at home “.
The product, registered under the name Nano-SIL®, is not harmful or toxic at all, it uses nanosilicon. Silica or silica (SiOtwo), it is one of the most common substances on earth “, says Dr. Picollo us.
“It is naturally found in sand, rocks and clay. Nanogenetic silicon or nanosilicon has the same structure and chemical composition as silicon but different properties of reactivity, electric charge and specific region. Nanosilica has been used as a medical and veterinary device for many years and has recently been recommended for domestic and domestic pest control. The special properties of nanosilica depend on the size of the nanoparticles. In the case of the pediculicide product, the size of the nanoparticles was chosen so that it could not penetrate human skin “.
This development was made possible thanks to the joint research program of the Pest and Pesticide Research Center CIPEIN-CONICET and the Elea Laboratory.
“The program explores new ways to control lice and addresses the great need for the problem in Argentina and the world. At present, the prevalence of pediculosis in Argentine children is close to 80%, “said Dr. María Inés Picollo.