May 11, 2010

Gates Dishes Out $34 Billion To Science, Medical Projects

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced Monday that they are backing the efforts of 78 different science projects, one of which plans to develop a vaccine triggered by human sweat.

The foundation, a $34 billion fund that is run by Bill Gates, said each of the 78 projects would get a $100,000 grant for further study.

Other projects being backed include developing a low-cost cell phone microscope to diagnose malaria, using ultrasound as a reversible male contraceptive, insecticide-treated scarves, and imaging systems to seek and destroy parasites with a targeted laser vaccine.

"We are convinced that some of these ideas will lead to innovations and eventually solutions that will save lives," Tachi Yamada, of the Gates Foundation's global health program, said in a statement.

The foundation said the winners were from universities, research institutes and non-profit organizations in 18 countries from all over the globe.

One group of German scientists plan to use their grant to develop nanoparticles that penetrate the skin through hair follicles and burst on contact with human sweat to release vaccines.

Another team is using the grant in order to determine whether treating traditional scarves worn by migrant workers along the Thai-Cambodia border with insecticide will reduce drug-resistant malaria.

A Uganda team is testing the ability of insect-eating plants to reduce the number of malaria-transmitting mosquitoes.

Scientists in the United States plan to use the money to study the ability of ultrasound to temporarily deplete testicular sperm counts for possible use as a new male contraceptive.

The grants were awarded by the foundation's Grand Challenges Explorations scheme, which is a five-year $100 million initiative that aims to promote innovation in global health.

Gates is co-founder of Microsoft Corp and remains chairman of the company.

The foundation has handed out over $21 billion in grants since its 1994 opening.


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