New molecule effective against lice

French medical researchers from the AP-HP (Henri Mondor Hospital and Avicenne Hospital) and Inserm (Unit 738 "Models and methods for therapeutic evaluation of chronic illnesses" and CIC 202, at Tours) have recently demonstrated the effectiveness of a new molecule in the fight against lice. Faced with the emergence of increasing resistance to conventional treatments by these parasites, this new medication represents a real therapeutic alternative which is effective in 95% of cases.

This work has been published in the March 11th edition of The New England Journal of Medicine.

Lice are parasites which infest more than 100 million people worldwide each year. Children between the ages of 3 and 11 years are particularly vulnerable because of their social behaviour (games etc.) which is favourable to the propagation of parasites.

Although conventional anti-lice lotions are effective in a many cases, an ever increasing resistance to these treatments has been observed. Like many parasites, lice have evolved their own strategy for survival in difficult conditions. Through evolution of their genetic inheritance, they have become insensitive to the usual insecticides (malathion and pyrethrin) contained in the lotions. In the case of pyrethrin, mutations in the amino acids involved in the development of the sodium channels, acting at the central nervous system level of the lice, have been identified and are responsible for this resistance.

The appearance of new forms of resistance seems to be constantly increasing and lice epidemics are becoming ever more difficult to treat and eradicate. Hence the necessity to find new therapeutic alternatives.

Source: INSERM (Institut national de la santé et de la recherche médical)

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