Innovative repellents for disease-carrying mosquitoes

Image: Gloria Vinyoles / Unitaid

Driving deadly vectors from inhabited areas

Challenges

The malaria parasite and dengue virus are transmitted through the bites of infected mosquitoes.

World Health Organization (WHO) data from 2015-2017 shows no significant progress in reducing global malaria. There were an estimated 219 million malaria cases and 435,000 malaria-related deaths in 2017.

An estimated 50-100 million people are infected with dengue every year.

New vector-control tools are needed to complement methods already being used, such as insecticide-treated bed nets, long-lasting insecticide spraying and prevention drugs.

Solutions

Preventing mosquito-human contact helps control the diseases.

Spatial repellents are chemicals introduced into the air to repel mosquitoes and disrupt their habits, including, possibly, their feeding and reproductive behaviour.

The University of Notre Dame’s project–Advancing Spatial Repellents for Vector-borne Disease Control–will evaluate slow-release spatial repellents that can be easily deployed in houses and temporary shelters. The repellants are delivered via small, clear plastic sheets hung in strategic spots.

The work includes two clinical trials, one in Kenya and one in Sri Lanka, as well as studies among displaced populations in Mali and in refugee settings in Uganda. Malaria will be the focus in Kenya, Mali and Uganda, and dengue in Sri Lanka.

“This grant will enable research with the potential to transform the lives of millions of people around the world who suffer from mosquito-borne disease. We’re grateful for the confidence Unitaid has shown in the University of Notre Dame to lead this program.”

Robert J. Bernhard,  vice president of research, University of Notre Dame

The impact we are seeking

The program aims to generate data that would allow WHO to recommend spatial repellent use for public health channels, including in humanitarian crises.

The University of Notre Dame leads a project team in collaboration with industry partner SC Johnson to develop the new spatial repellent delivery method, advance the insect-borne disease research and test the product in multiple endemic areas around the world. Notre Dame will also work with a number of consortium partners, including the Kenya Medical Research Institute, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Catholic Relief Services, the National Dengue Control Unit in Sri Lanka, the Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Programs, and FHI 360.



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