text-only page produced automatically by LIFT Text Transcoder Skip all navigation and go to page contentSkip top navigation and go to directorate navigationSkip top navigation and go to page navigation
National Science Foundation Home National Science Foundation - Biological Sciences (BIO)
Biological Sciences (BIO)
design element
BIO Home
About BIO
Funding Opportunities
Awards
News
Events
Discoveries
Publications
Advisory Committee
Career Opportunities
BIO Program Director and Reviewer Opportunities
Supplements & Other Opportunities
See Additional BIO Resources
View BIO Staff
BIO Organizations
Biological Infrastructure (DBI)
Environmental Biology (DEB)
Emerging Frontiers (EF)
Integrative Organismal Systems (IOS)
Molecular and Cellular Biosciences (MCB)
Proposals and Awards
Proposal and Award Policies and Procedures Guide
  Introduction
Proposal Preparation and Submission
bullet Grant Proposal Guide
  bullet Grants.gov Application Guide
Award and Administration
bullet Award and Administration Guide
Award Conditions
Other Types of Proposals
Merit Review
NSF Outreach
Policy Office
Additional BIO Resources
The BRAIN Initiative
FY 2015 BIO Budget Excerpts
BIO's Guidance on Data Management Plans
Dear Colleague Letters: BIO and Foundation-wide
List of BIO Cyberinfrastructure Reports
National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON)
Partnership for Undergraduate Life Science Education (PULSE)
Supplements & Other Opportunities
Science Across Virtual Institutes (SAVI)
Broadening Participation Activities
NSF's Career-Life Balance Initiative
Interdisciplinary Research
BIO Reports
NSF Strategic Plan: 2011-2016
NSF Information Related to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009
Merit Review (effective Jan. 14, 2013)
Image Credits
Other Site Features
Special Reports
Research Overviews
Multimedia Gallery
Classroom Resources
NSF-Wide Investments

Email this pagePrint this page


Press Release 06-161
"LouseBuster" Instrument Shown to Kill Head Lice

Biologists invent chemical-free device to treat common ailment

An image taken through a microscope shows a head louse up close and personal.

An image taken through a microscope shows a head louse up close and personal.
Credit and Larger Version

November 6, 2006

Biologists have invented a chemical-free, hairdryer-like device--the LouseBuster--and conducted a study showing it eradicates head lice infestations on children by exterminating the eggs, or "nits," and killing enough lice to prevent them from reproducing.

"The LouseBuster is particularly effective because it kills louse eggs, which chemical treatments have never done very well," said Dale Clayton, a University of Utah biologist who led the research and co-invented the machine. "It also kills hatched lice well enough to eliminate entire infestations."

The machine blows warm air through a flexible hose, which has a rake-like hand piece on the end. It kills lice and nits by drying them out, not by heating them. It works in one 30-minute treatment. Comparatively, chemical treatments require multiple applications 1 to 2 weeks apart.

"This research has dramatically improved our understanding of these parasites and how to deal with them," said Juan Carlos Morales, a program director in the National Science Foundation's Division of Environmental Biology. "The LouseBuster is an example of the important benefits to society that result from basic biological research."

The study was published in the November 2006 issue of the journal Pediatrics. Supporters of the research include the Utah Center of Excellence Program, University of Utah, Primary Children's Medical Center Foundation and the National Pediculosis Association. The development was also funded in part by the National Science Foundation.

In the new study, the researchers tested six ways of applying hot air to children's lice-infested scalps. The tests were conducted during 2001-2005 on 169 infested children who were solicited for the study by flyers distributed in dozens of Salt Lake Valley schools. The researchers reported an 80 percent kill rate that was high enough to prevent remaining lice from breeding - possibly due to stress or sterilization - so virtually all subjects were cured of head lice when examined one week following treatment with the LouseBuster.

The LouseBuster is in the early stages of commercial development by a University of Utah spin-off company, Larada Sciences, at which Clayton is chief scientific officer. Patents are pending on the LouseBuster technology, which Clayton hopes will be on the market within 2 years for use in schools and clinics.

Each year, 6 million to 12 million Americans are infested with head lice, making children miss 12 million to 24 million school days, the researchers say.

Treatments for lice have included chemical shampoos, louse combs and home remedies. Annual U.S. sales of anti-louse shampoos exceed $160 million, yet the shampoos are not very effective at killing nits, requiring repeat treatment. Many parents dislike using insecticide shampoos on children, and lice rapidly are evolving resistance to chemicals.

This research was funded by NSF's Partnerships for Enhancing Expertise in Taxonomy (PEET) program.

-NSF-

Media Contacts
Cheryl Dybas, NSF, (703) 292-7734, cdybas@nsf.gov
Lee Siegel, University of Utah, (801) 581-8993, leesiegel@ucomm.utah.edu

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering. In fiscal year (FY) 2015, its budget is $7.3 billion. NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and other institutions. Each year, NSF receives about 48,000 competitive proposals for funding, and makes about 11,000 new funding awards. NSF also awards about $626 million in professional and service contracts yearly.

 Get News Updates by Email 

Useful NSF Web Sites:
NSF Home Page: http://www.nsf.gov
NSF News: http://www.nsf.gov/news/
For the News Media: http://www.nsf.gov/news/newsroom.jsp
Science and Engineering Statistics: http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/
Awards Searches: http://www.nsf.gov/awardsearch/

 

Biologist Dale Clayton demonstrates the LouseBuster.
Biologist Dale Clayton demonstrates the LouseBuster.
Credit and Larger Version

The LouseBuster is a prototype instrument developed by NSF-funded biologists.
The LouseBuster is a prototype instrument developed by NSF-funded biologists.
Credit and Larger Version



Email this pagePrint this page
Back to Top of page