Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Funds 76 New Ideas To Improve Global Health

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21st October 2009, 11:27am - Views: 674

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Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Funds 76 New Ideas to Improve Global Health, From

Chewing Gum to Chocolate

ARUSHA, Oct. 21 /PRNewswire-AsiaNet/ --

         Scientists from 16 countries selected for their unconventional projects to fight infectious


    The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation today announced 76 grants of US$100,000 each to pursue

bold ideas for transforming health in developing countries. The grants support researchers in 16

countries with ideas as diverse as developing an electronic nose to diagnose tuberculosis and using

chocolate to help prevent malaria.

    "Some of the biggest stumbling blocks in global health are now being overcome with promising

new vaccines and treatments," said Dr. Tachi Yamada, president of the Gates Foundation's Global

Health Program. "Grand Challenges Explorations will continue to fill the pipeline with possibilities

and hopefully produce a breakthrough idea that could save untold numbers of lives."

    In three rounds of the foundation's Grand Challenges Explorations initiative, 262 researchers

representing 30 countries have been awarded grants. Newly-funded projects include efforts to

develop a paper cup that turns TB-positive sputum samples a bright orange, use a peptide found in

scorpions to block development of the malaria parasite, and adapt a protein that parasites use to

seal their egg cases as a "sticky coating" for intranasal vaccines.

    Grantees from round 3 were selected from almost 3,000 proposals. All levels of scientists are

represented - from young post-graduate investigators to veteran researchers - as are a wide range

of disciplines, such as chemistry, bioengineering, electronics, mechanical engineering, infectious

disease, and epidemiology. They are based at universities, research institutes, nonprofit

organizations, and private companies around the world. Examples include:

    Innovative ways to diagnose infectious diseases:

    - Andrew Fung of University of California, Los Angeles aims to develop

      chewing gum that can detect malaria biomarkers in saliva;

    - Ranjan Nanda of the International Centre for Genetic Engineering &

      Biotechnology in India will attempt to create a handheld "electronic 

      nose" that gathers and analyzes breath samples to diagnose tuberculosis;

    - Udantha Abeyratne of the University of Queensland in Australia will

      equip mobile phones and mp3 players with microphones to record cough and

      sleep sounds, which could then be screened to diagnose pneumonia.

    New strategies to fight malaria and mosquitoes:

    - Steven Maranz of Weill Cornell Medical College in New York will test

      the ability of a compound found in chocolate to keep malaria at bay;

    - Annette Habluetzel of the University of Camerino in Italy will create a

      micropellet food which, when activated by the sun, could generate 

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      toxins that kill mosquito larvae;

    - Peter Lubega Yiga of AdhocWorks Foundation in South Africa will test

      the efficacy of a fermentation-based household mosquito repellent.

    More effective vaccines:

    - Cecil Czerkinsky of the International Vaccine Institute in Korea will

      explore whether vaccines administered under the tongue can produce 

      strong immune responses in distant organs such as the lungs and 

      reproductive tract;

    - Margaret Njoroge of Med Biotech Laboratories in Uganda will develop an

      intranasal vaccine for mothers, designed to induce antibodies against 

      malaria in breast milk and confer immunity on their babies;

    - Kate Edwards, at the University of San Diego will study how a brief

      bout of exercise may enhance the efficiency of pneumococcal vaccine.

    About Grand Challenges Explorations

    Grand Challenges Explorations is a five-year, $100 million initiative to promote innovation in

global health. It is part of the Grand Challenges in Global Health initiative, which is supported by the

Gates Foundation to achieve major breakthroughs in global health.

    Applications for the next round of Grand Challenges Explorations are being accepted through

November 2, 2009. Grant application instructions, including the list of topics for which proposals are

    Guided by the belief that every life has equal value, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation works to

help all people lead healthy, productive lives. In developing countries, it focuses on improving

people's health and giving them the chance to lift themselves out of hunger and extreme poverty. In

the United States, it seeks to ensure that all people-especially those with the fewest resources-have

access to the opportunities they need to succeed in school and life. Based in Seattle, Washington,

the foundation is led by CEO Jeff Raikes and Co-chair William H. Gates Sr., under the direction of

Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett. Learn more at

    For high-resolution still photography and information about the foundation's work, please visit:

    SOURCE:  Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

    CONTACT: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation



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