Published: Thursday 31 March 2005

farthest galaxies: The most distant cluster of galaxies yet has been revealed by astronomers to lie 9 billion light-years away. That beats the 8.5 billion light-years' distance of the previous record holder, says Christopher Mullis, at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, US, who led the team. The new cluster-- called XMMU J2235.3-2557 -- which may harbour thousands of galaxies, appears to have started growing when the universe was roughly 2.5 billion years old and stopped about 2 billion years later.

natural repellent: Researchers have found chemicals produced by the human body that repel mosquitoes, which could lead to a natural, odourless bug spray. Scientists have long known that some people are more tempting targets for mosquitoes than others. James Logan of Britain's Rothamsted Research Centre and his team tested people to see how likely they were to attract mosquitoes, then collected the volunteers' "liquid body odours."

The researchers found when they sprayed those chemicals on people who normally did attract mosquitoes, the insects were no longer interested.

germ killer: Prolonged exposure to a germ killer widely used in industry and in household and personal care products, stunts the growth of developing nerves in the brains of rats, according to new research. The finding on the toxic effect of methyl-isothiazolinone or MIT, was described by Elias Aizenman at the annual meeting of the American Society of Cell Biology in Washington, DC in February. He said people exposed to MIT complain of contact burns, dermatitis or allergic sensitisation.

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