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The Kite Patch: fighting malaria

22 November 2016

A sticker patch could be the next step in malaria prevention in Africa. It is being developed in California by Olfactor Laboratories. People wearing the patch became invisible to mosquitoes, said the company, and could be guarded against bites for up to 48 hours.

Called the Kite Patch, it uses safe chemicals that stop mosquitoes from detecting the carbon dioxide humans breathe out, which the insects use to track people.

"Our goal is to be ready to ship Kite Patch in Q1 2017," reads the campaign page on the crowdfunding website, Indiegogo.

"When you wear Kite, the product makes you practically invisible to mosquitoes," said chief researcher Dr Michelle Brown in a video. "And we've been able to accomplish this using food-grade FDA approved compounds, removing the need to use toxic and dangerous chemicals that are currently found in today's products."

Watch the video:

Kite Patch from SPARKHOUSE on Vimeo.

Brown said science was integral to fighting malaria, but there was no silver bullet. "However, we are confident that our work to make humans invisible to mosquitoes will be transformational in the broader war against mosquito-borne diseases."

Funding and field study

The project was co-funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and money was raised using the crowdfunding methods on Indiegogo.

The team travelled to Uganda as part of their field survey.

"We researched and tested various technologies, brought in experts and worked with development partners to make Kite Patch a possibility," reads the Indigogo site. "Some approaches proved unscalable, some underperformed and all required a long regulatory approval processes."

However, researchers have said that at this stage, the patch is not yet as effective as other Kite mosquito repellents. "As we continue to develop it, we seek to make it a complementary product to Kite Shield [mosquito repellent spray]."

Source: Biz News and SouthAfrica.info reporter

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