Dad and son take on the bluebottle

2015-02-28 00:00

A FAMILY duo believe they have invented the first organic lotion to take the sting out of bluebottles — using an enzyme from the pawpaw tree.

Durban resident Grant ­Noades, a former Border region surfing champion, and his inventor father-in-law Harry Joliffe may just have found the cure to stop thousands of children from crying on the beach when stung by a bluebottle on South Africa’s east coast.

Noades said the development of the product All Stings Considered was the result of watching a family member reel in agony after being stung by a bluebottle on Durban’s South Beach 10 years ago.

Traditionally, lifeguards have used a simple remedy of vinegar and water, which, while not wholly effective, gives the hapless victim a sense of comfort.

“Papain is a protein-cleaving enzyme which has been derived from papaya [pawpaw]. The latex of the papaya is the source of the enzyme. All stings consist of toxic protein and papaya is a natural enzyme which will denature the toxins in the protein. The best way to explain how it works is if you can envision thousands of microscopic PAC-MAN eating up all this toxic protein,” said Noades.

He said the trick in developing it was to figure out how they could keep the enzyme stable.

“We contacted a professor at North West University who did stability and PH tests. He advised us to use Carbopol, which is used in toothpaste. The mixture of the active enzyme, Carbopol and deionised water gave a perfect gel that is very active and aggressive to any toxic protein.”

The enzyme is collected by “making incisions into the tree” and collecting the fluid in vessels in a process called “tapping”.

Noades said Joliffe is an inventor by nature.

“Besides All Stings Considered, he has invented a dust collector designed to collect dust when drilling into brick or concrete walls.

The married father of two, who is a consultant in the shipping container industry, said the lotion is effective against jellyfish, fireweed, stinging thistle, mosquito bites and bee stings.

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