Malathion is an organophosphate insecticide of relatively low humantoxicity. It is a cholinesterase inhibitor, a diverse family of chemicals that includes sarin and carbaryl. Upon uptake into the target organism, it binds irreversibly to several, random cysteine residues on the cholinesterase enzyme, with a peroxide as the leaving group. The resultant phosphoester group is strongly bound to the cholinesterase, and irreversibly denatures the protein. Malathion in low doses (0.5% preparations) is used as a treatment for head lice & body lice (pediculosis) and scabies.
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