Gates Foundation Invests in Antiviral Tomatoes, Mosquito Fungus, Etc.

By Rachel Cernansky | May 5, 2009 2:31 pm

Bill GatesUnconventional is the theme of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation‘s latest round of endorsements. The foundation on Monday awarded 81 five-year research grants of $100,000 to scientists pursuing bold ideas that could lead to breakthroughs, focusing on ways to prevent and treat infectious diseases, such as HIV, malaria, tuberculosis, pneumonia and diarrheal diseases [AP].

One grant, for example, will be awarded to Rutgers University’s Eric Lam, who is working to develop tomatoes that can deliver antiviral drugs. Another grant will fund a British research team attempting to compile a library of all possible mutations of HIV with the ultimate goal of a vaccine that can protect against many variant forms of the virus. In the US, [one researcher will receive] a grant to see if shooting a laser at a person’s skin before administering a vaccine can enhance immune response [Telegraph].

Fourteen of the grants focused on novel strategies to combat malaria, which kills more than 800,000 people each year around the globe. The Gates Foundation chose to fund a British team seeking to build an inexpensive instrument to diagnose malaria by using magnets to detect the waste products of the malaria parasite in human blood [Telegraph]. Another grant will support a scientist working on a fungus that can infect malaria-carrying mosquitoes and suppress their sense of smell—and thus prevent them from finding, and infecting, people.

The foundation also plans to spend $73 million over five years helping small farmers in impoverished countries. The agriculture grants include $40 million over five years to develop drought-tolerant corn, $13 million over four for more efficient irrigation, and $10 million over four years to help women develop education and training programs related to agriculture [AP].

Related Content:
80beats: Experimental Malaria Vaccine Could Start Saving Lives by 2011
80beats: Promising New Malaria Vaccine Is Extracted From Irradiated Mosquito Spit
80beats: Will Polio Be the Second Disease Eradicated From the World?

Image: Wikimedia Commons

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Health & Medicine

Discover's Newsletter

Sign up to get the latest science news delivered weekly right to your inbox!


80beats is DISCOVER's news aggregator, weaving together the choicest tidbits from the best articles covering the day's most compelling topics.

See More

Collapse bottom bar