Archive for May 22nd, 2009

Gates Open to Creative Ideas

May 22nd, 2009 | No Comments | Source: Gates Foundation

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Grand Challenges Explorations program announced last week that it awarded $100,000 grants to each of 81 scientific teams that had submitted unconventional, almost whacky-sounding ideas to improve health in developing countries.

GatesFoundationgranteeMany wondered whether the program’s second round could generate the same creative idea-flow that characterized its first round, in which 104 scientists were funded last October including one fellow who plans to recruit mosquitoes into an air force of flying syringes that deliver vaccines rather than diseases.

It turned out to be no problem.

The program funded scientists from 17 countries whose ideas focused primarily on infectious disease treatment and prevention.

“Grand Challenges Explorations is our way to help inspire the bold ideas that could one day help transform global health,” said Tachi Yamada, president of the Foundation’s Global Health Program.

Among the compelling projects, Boitumelo Semete at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research in South Africa will attempt to develop “sticky” nanoparticles that attach to tuberculosis-infected cells and slowly release anti-TB drugs.

Eric Lam at Rutgers will try to develop a tomato laced with antiviral drugs.

Thomas Baker at Penn State will try to infect malaria-carrying mosquitoes with a fungus that essentially gives them a head cold which, hopefully, suppresses their sense of smell and hence their ability to find human prey.

hightechmosquitoeradicatorThe winners were selected from more than 3,000 applicants.

The grantees are based at universities, research institutes, nonprofit organizations, and private companies in Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, Latin America, and North America.

Applications for the next round of Grand Challenges Explorations are being accepted through May 28, 2009.



Please Pass the Fresca

May 22nd, 2009 | No Comments | Source: MedPageToday

stonesmasherRoutine preventive measures for kidney stones might someday include consumption of diet soda, especially the fruit-flavored ones, if the findings of a team led by Brian Eisner withstand further scrutiny.

The UCSF-based scientists proposed that surprising possibility at the recently concluded meetings of the American Urological Association.

Using ion chromatography, Eisner and colleagues measured the amount alkalis such as citrate and malate in 15 diet soda products. These 2 chemicals increase urine alkalinity and so create a milieu that inhibits formation and growth of kidney stones.

stonebreakerDiet Sunkist Orange and Diet 7-Up had the highest alkali content according to Eisner, and fruit-flavored concoctions in general contained much more of the good stuff than colas.

“It’s not clear how all of these products got their alkali,” Eisner told MedPageToday. “The drinks with the highest alkali in our study presumably got it from the orange or lemon-lime juices that were added to them.”

Diet Sunkist Orange had a total of 10.49 meq/L total alkali, mostly as the citrate. Diet 7-Up took second with 9.79 meq/L, all from the citrate.

The top 10 finishers were all fruit-flavored (orange, lemon-lime, etc.). Diet Squirt was tenth at 3.93 meq/L total alkali, an amount that was more than twice as high as the top-scoring cola-like beverage, which for the record was Diet Mug Root Beer, at 1.72 meq/L.

stonemelterEisner’s group limited its investigation to diet drinks because, according to Eisner, “we wanted to be able to recommend something that was healthier for our patients.

We didn’t feel as comfortable recommending something with a lot of sugar or calories in it.”

AUA spokesperson Anthony Smith said the study “suggests that people with stone disease who do not drink soda may benefit from moderate consumption.”



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