U.S.-Made, Indiegogo-Funded Mosquito Invisibility Patch To Be Tested In Uganda

U.S.-Made, Indiegogo-Funded Mosquito Invisibility Patch To Be Tested In Uganda

A U.S.-made, crowdsourcing-funded patch, said to make human odors invisible to mosquitoes, will soon be tested in Uganda against the disease-transmitting insects, according to a report in AllAfrica.

A single Kite Patch sticker placed on clothes is designed to disrupt for two days the ability of all mosquito species to sense exhaled carbon dioxide and human odors. This is the way the insects find people to bite, the report said.

Michelle Brown is chief scientist at U.S.-based Olfactor Laboratories, which developed the patch. After undergoing preliminary lab tests, the patch is ready for large-scale production and field-testing, she said.

Olfactor is crowdsourcing funds to assess the patch in Uganda.

Uganda is among the countries with the highest rates of malaria, particularly in children under age 5, said Kite Patch Project Leader Grey Frandsen. “It’s a country that will allow us to test our technology in a range of different settings,” he said.

With field tests planned for later this year, Frandsen and his team at Olfactor hope to evaluate the adaptability of the patch. “We know that our technology works,” he said. “The question now is does it work on a shirt that’s not been washed for three days or does it work where huts are built with cow dung?”

Ugandan field tests will be funded through a 45-day crowdsourcing campaign now underway by crowdfunding site Indiegogo. Within four days of the launch, the campaign raised more than its initial target of $75,000. It has now raised $527,000 towards its $600,000 goal.

“We wanted to involve a large number of people in the process of developing the final form of the technology and efforts to get it to market,” Frandsen said.

Olfactor filed for a patent on the patch and is collaborating with non-governmental organizations to make it available worldwide.

Cost is still to be determined, Frandsen said. The patch will likely be subsidized so that it costs less than existing repellents and can be used every day.

The patch contains non-toxic compounds that are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and “nothing like (it) exists on the market today,” he said.

The Kite Patch research team is also looking at how mosquitoes are affected by re-exposure to the chemicals in the patches and whether they might become resistant to them.

“The results of field trials of the product in Uganda will be key to determining (its) ultimate potential,” said Bernard Nahlen, deputy coordinator of the President’s Malaria Initiative led by the U.S. Agency for International Development. “As the patch only repels mosquitoes for 48 hours, there is still a lot of work ahead to understand how it could be part of the malaria-control tool box.”