Sometimes it pays to be a little wacky. Since 2008, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has given $100,000 Grand Challenges Explorations grants to support innovation in global health but only for unorthodox, outside-the-box proposals. Last month 78 new awards were announced. Some highlights:
Say goodbye to painful needles
Infection experts in Germany want to develop nanoparticles that release vaccine ingredients directly into the skin via hair follicles once the vaccine comes in contact with sweat.
An evolution-proof pesticide to control malaria
Researchers at Johns Hopkins propose a lab-engineered virus that would infect the larvae of mosquitoes carrying the disease. The virus would kill the mosquitoes before they're old enough to transmit malaria but after they're old enough to reproduce. This would reduce the evolutionary pressure that leads to adaptation and pesticide resistance.
A contraceptive and STD protectant in one
A researcher at the University of Newcastle in Australia is exploring ways to use quinones a common organic compound to react with enzymes in human semen. The technique could not only immobilize sperm but also disrupt the disease-causing mechanism of microbes that cause sexually transmitted diseases like chlamydia.
Next Irony in Progress