NCBI ROFL: Nothing like a thin coat of earwax to keep the bugs away.

By ncbi rofl | July 13, 2010 7:00 pm

370px-Earwax_on_swabEarwax (cerumen) might be formulated into a safe and biodegradable insect repellent

“Some of the most common life threatening insect-borne diseases include malaria, leshmaniasis and yellow fever which can be prevented or treated with different non-therapeutic/therapeutic procedures such as use of mosquito net, insect repellent (IR), vector controlling strategies, vaccination and implementation of pharmaceuticals. Among these methods IR provides the cheapest and easiest one to use. Active ingredients of IR usually include N,N-diethyl-3-methylbenzamide (DEET), botanical extracts and picaridin. However still some concerns remain e.g. DEET is not biodegradable, has side effects on skin, cardiovascular and central nervous system and is not applicable in under 3 years old children and animals.

Cerumen is produced by glands that are located on the outer third of the ear canal, has a characteristic of bitter taste and protection of ear which is known as IR, bactericide, fungicide and antivirus. It has lipidic and non-lipidic fractions; lipid fraction is consisted of squalene, cholesterol esters, wax esters, triacylglycerols, fatty acids, cholesterol, ceramides, cholesterol sulfate, and several unidentified polar components.

The authors would like to hypothesize an IR made from fatty acids and steroids of cerumen. Whereas masking skin odor and presenting a bad taste is the mechanism of action for IRs. Also fatty acids considered as major ingredient of Neem Oil as repellent, a screening of lipid fraction with the aim of discovering which components have the major effect is recommended.

The advantages of the proposed formulation will be easy of production, biodegradability and safety of use in adults, children and animals.

Beside, proteins and peptides in cerumen could be further analyzed in order to investigate a nontoxic multi-spectrum antibiotic; possessing bactericidal, fungicidal and antiviral activity.”


Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Gregory F. Maxwell

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