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Eco-friendly insect repellents identified

Paving way for new environmental-friendly insect repellents, researchers have identified two compounds emitted by mosquito predators that make the mosquitoes less inclined to lay eggs in pools of water.

Called kairomones, the compounds emitted by insect predators are detected by their prey, and can even trigger adaptations, such a change in body size or armour, that helps protect the prey.

The findings by Rockefeller University’s Joel E Cohen and colleagues at the University of Haifa in Israel may provide new environmentally friendly tactics for repelling and controlling disease-carrying insects.

Kairomones are produced by an individual of one species and received by an individual of a different species, with the receiving species often benefiting at the expense of the donor.

Cohen and his Israeli colleagues focused on the interaction between two insect species found in temporary pools of the Mediterranean and West Asia — larvae of the mosquito C longiareolata and its predator, the backswimmer N maculata.

When the arriving female mosquitoes detect a chemical emitted by the backswimmer, they are less likely to lay eggs in that pool.

Cohen and his colleagues identified two chemicals, hydrocarbons called n-heneicosane and n-tricosane, which repelled egg-laying by mosquitoes at the concentrations of those compounds found in nature.

Now, a drug to fight sweet cravings

Researchers from Australia have invented a new drug that will help people to curb their sweet cravings.

The new drug is expected to fight overeating by making sweet food less pleasurable.
Food stimulated the same reward pathways in the brain as drugs of addiction such as heroin and cocaine, said Michael Cowley, director of the Obesity and Diabetes Institute at Monash University, Melbourne.

He also said that for some people, food cravings were a major reason for weight problems. “People who say they have food cravings tend to uniformly crave sweet food. The reward pathways of their brain are activated quite strongly when they eat sugary food,” said Cowley.

Cowley’s new drug works by changing the way the reward pathways react. “We have developed a drug which works on those pathways,” he said.

“People who have used it in our trials have lost weight because they feel they have better control over what they eat. It changes the way their brain reacts to foods so they feel less compelled to eat,” he added.

The US Food and Drug Administration are assessing the drug. Cowley insisted that the drug is not a magic bullet. Individuals need to take action on their diet and exercise levels, supported by government projects.

‘Hysterectomy via keyhole surgery is best’

A new study by Aussie scientists has shown that women who go for a hysterectomy or removal of ovaries via keyhole surgery are half as likely to suffer complications than those that opt for open abdominal surgery.

The results of the new study hopes to provide women with a quicker and less traumatic recovery from uterine cancer treatment.

Brisbane gynaecological oncologist Professor Andreas Obermair, who chaired the study at the Queensland Centre for Gynaecological Cancer, said patients undergoing a hysterectomy via the keyhole surgical approach generally left the hospital within one to two days.

“This gives them a recovery rate of two to three weeks and a 50 per cent reduction in post-operative complication rates,” he said.

“When considering that patients will spend five to seven days in hospital with a recovery time of four to six weeks for open abdominal surgery, more women will now undergo keyhole surgery in the treatment of uterine cancer,” Obermair added.

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