- Recently a gel was developed by Indian researchers which, when applied on the skin, can inhibit some pesticides from getting absorbed into the body, thus averting serious adverse effects and even death.
How pesticides harm body?
- Organophosphate-based pesticides, which are commonly used by farmers in India, are toxic to the nervous system and heart, and can cause cognitive dysfunction.
- When esters present in organophosphate-based pesticides enter the body they bind and inhibit an enzyme (acetylcholinesterase or AChE) critical for nerve and muscle function.
- This causes neurological disorders, suffocation, paralysis, and even death.
- About the research: The research was conducted by Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine, Bengaluru, an autonomous institute under the Department of Biotechnology.
2. The results of the study were published in the journal ‘Science Advances’.
3. The scientists used a chemical reaction to convert the ester into acid by using a catalyst to make the pesticide inactive.
4. About the gel:
- Since organophosphate-based pesticides are absorbed through the skin, the researchers made a gel with active ingredients of the gel attached to chitosan (a substance found in the hard outer shells of crab and shrimp) so that gel does not penetrate the skin.
- The gel was effective in a range of temperatures (20°-40° C) and a single application could offer protection for four continuous days of pesticide exposure.
- The gel does not act like a physical barrier but chemically deactivates the pesticides thereby limiting the inhibition of the enzyme and can be washed off using soap.
5. Successful experiment:
- Scientists conducted the experiment successfully on rats.
- It was found that the rats which did not receive the gel application when exposed to the pesticide died within seven days.
- However, all the animals that received the gel survived even 30 days after exposure to pesticides.
- Also, none of the rats that received the gel application showed any visible signs of toxicity.