CLOSE
ISTOCK
ISTOCK

Out of Bug Spray? Try Victoria’s Secret Perfume

ISTOCK
ISTOCK

Summer may be long gone in the Western Hemisphere, but that’s no reason to let your guard down. Before you know it, the mosquitoes will be back, but this time, you can be prepared. Scientists tested the mosquito-repelling powers of 10 substances. Most of the results confirmed what we already know, but there was one big surprise: Victoria’s Secret Bombshell perfume makes a pretty decent bug spray.

The mosquito is more than just a pest. With its syringe-like proboscis and taste for blood, it’s the perfect carrier for deadly diseases like malaria, dengue fever, and West Nile virus. Some researchers are working fast to find cures for these conditions while others are trying to figure out how to keep the mosquitoes from biting in the first place.

That group includes Stacy Rodriguez, a research assistant at New Mexico State University’s Vector Physiology Lab. “Not all repellents are created equal—unfortunately they’re advertised as such,” Rodriguez said in a press release this week. “It’s important to let consumers know what’s actually effective.”

Rodriguez and her colleagues dropped mosquitoes into the tail of a Y-shaped tube to give them a choice between a naked human hand and a hand sprayed with a chemical compound. The study included two mosquito species, Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus, and 10 compounds, eight of which were commercially available mosquito repellents. The other two substances were fragrances: Avon’s Skin So Soft bath oil and Victoria’s Secret Bombshell perfume. 

Unsurprisingly, the bug sprays with DEET were the most successful in keeping mosquitoes away. Sorry, moms: Avon's Skin So Soft Bug Guard was pretty much useless. A vitamin B1 patch, marketed as a “natural” alternative to bug spray, was not just ineffective—it actually attracted the little bloodsuckers.

And then there was Bombshell. Historically, studies have shown that floral and fruity scents attract mosquitoes, and bite-prone people were cautioned to stay away from perfume. But this perfume has both floral and fruity notes, and it kept mosquitoes away for more than two hours.

The two mosquito species responded differently to some of the compounds. A bug spray called EcoSmart stopped repelling Ae. aegypti after a half hour, but kept Ae. albopictus away for more than four hours. Both species, however, hated the Bombshell.

The research was published in the Journal of Insect Research. 

Be forewarned if you’re going to attempt the perfume-as-bug-spray route: the researchers used a lot of perfume in this experiment. “Lower concentrations of the same fragrance might have different effects,” they wrote. So though the perfume will work as mosquito repellent, you may also run the risk of repelling everyone else around you with your fruity perfume cloud. 

nextArticle.image_alt|e
iStock
arrow
Medicine
New Cancer-Fighting Nanobots Can Track Down Tumors and Cut Off Their Blood Supply
iStock
iStock

Scientists have developed a new way to cut off the blood flow to cancerous tumors, causing them to eventually shrivel up and die. As Business Insider reports, the new treatment uses a design inspired by origami to infiltrate crucial blood vessels while leaving the rest of the body unharmed.

A team of molecular chemists from Arizona State University and the Chinese Academy of Sciences describe their method in the journal Nature Biotechnology. First, they constructed robots that are 1000 times smaller than a human hair from strands of DNA. These tiny devices contain enzymes called thrombin that encourage blood clotting, and they're rolled up tightly enough to keep the substance contained.

Next, researchers injected the robots into the bloodstreams of mice and small pigs sick with different types of cancer. The DNA sought the tumor in the body while leaving healthy cells alone. The robot knew when it reached the tumor and responded by unfurling and releasing the thrombin into the blood vessel that fed it. A clot started to form, eventually blocking off the tumor's blood supply and causing the cancerous tissues to die.

The treatment has been tested on dozen of animals with breast, lung, skin, and ovarian cancers. In mice, the average life expectancy doubled, and in three of the skin cancer cases tumors regressed completely.

Researchers are optimistic about the therapy's effectiveness on cancers throughout the body. There's not much variation between the blood vessels that supply tumors, whether they're in an ovary in or a prostate. So if triggering a blood clot causes one type of tumor to waste away, the same method holds promise for other cancers.

But before the scientists think too far ahead, they'll need to test the treatments on human patients. Nanobots have been an appealing cancer-fighting option to researchers for years. If effective, the machines can target cancer at the microscopic level without causing harm to healthy cells. But if something goes wrong, the bots could end up attacking the wrong tissue and leave the patient worse off. Study co-author Hao Yan believes this latest method may be the one that gets it right. He said in a statement, "I think we are much closer to real, practical medical applications of the technology."

[h/t Business Insider]

nextArticle.image_alt|e
iStock
arrow
Medicine
New Peanut Allergy Patch Could Be Coming to Pharmacies This Year
iStock
iStock

About 6 million people in the U.S. and Europe have severe peanut allergies, including more than 2 million children. Now, French biotechnology company DBV Technologies SA has secured an FDA review for its peanut allergy patch, Bloomberg reports.

If approved, the company aims to start selling the Viaskin patch to children afflicted with peanut allergies in the second half of 2018. The FDA's decision comes in spite of the patch's disappointing study results last year, which found the product to be less effective than DBV hoped (though it did receive high marks for safety). The FDA has also granted Viaskin breakthrough-therapy and fast-track designations, which means a faster review process.

DBV's potentially life-saving product is a small disc that is placed on the arm or between the shoulder blades. It works like a vaccine, exposing the wearer's immune system to micro-doses of peanut protein to increase tolerance. It's intended to reduce the chances of having a severe allergic reaction to accidental exposure.

The patch might have competition: Aimmune Therapeutics Inc., which specializes in food allergy treatments, and the drug company Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. are working together to develop a cure for peanut allergies.

[h/t Bloomberg]

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios