OK, it's not a serious or dangerous condition, so we should all maintain a sense of humor about it. Nevertheless, few conditions fill parents, teachers and school officials with more dread and disgust than pediculosis (or head lice), which can spread from child to child like wildfire in any classroom. Throughout history, children have had to submit to such barbaric and unsafe treatments as the application of kerosene, or topical treatments based on lindane, a neurotoxin that has been banned from many other applications. Natural pyrethrin derivatives are billed as "safe," yet some physicians and pharmacists won't approve their use by pregnant mothers who must treat school-aged children, while "crunchy granola" remedies frequently don't work. The pediatric pharmaceutical specialist, Topaz Pharmaceuticals LLC (Philadelphia) says that FDA has just approved an investigational new drug application that would allow the company to begin clinical trials for a new topical solution designed to treat this condition. The company, which estimates that between six and 12 million children are affected in the U.S. each year, says the new compound is based on a safe and naturally occurring substance. The company is also developing acne treatments and vaccines.