Malaria Prevention Project Using Dirty Sock Odor Awarded Grand Challenges Grant

The odor of dirty socks can be used to attract mosquitoes and kill them before they’re able to spread malaria, Fredros Okumu of the Ifakara Health Institute in Tanzania said on Wednesday, Agence France-Presse reports (7/13).

Okumu “received a $775,000 grant Wednesday from Grand Challenges Canada and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation,” Post Media News and Daily Telegraph/Vancouver Sun reports. “His team came up with the idea after seeing how mosquitoes were drawn to smelly socks. … His team has developed a device using a synthetic version of the sock stink and hope to make it simple and cheap enough to be made and sold by villagers” (Davis, 7/13). “Researchers hope that if the strategy works, it will eventually complement insecticide-treated bed nets as a low-tech way to prevent malaria,” according to the Washington Post (Brown, 7/12).

In related news, the Associated Press/Atlanta Journal-Constitution examines two other research proposals – “[u]sing microwaves to kill malaria parasites and developing a way to give fetuses immunity to HIV” – that have moved into the second phase of funding as part of the Gates Foundation’s Grand Challenges Explorations (Blankinship, 7/13).