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Op-Ed: Oz. of Prevention vs Lb(s). of Cure?

In Dengue Fever, Malaria, Uncategorized on April 12, 2011 at 1:06 pm

I was asked to write this as part of the Malaria No More Griot project-dt Dennis Tracz of 141 Repellent

The global disease control community including the World Health Organization, UN, US Govt and NGO’s were energized by Bill and Melinda Gates calling for the ERADICATION of malaria rather than just trying to control the disease.

“Advances in science and medicine, promising research, and the rising concern of people around the world represent an historic opportunity not just to treat malaria or to control it—but to chart a long-term course to eradicate it,” said Melinda Gates in October 2007.

Pound(s) of Cure

Billions of dollars have been invested in research designed to eradicate malaria through the development of vaccines and lethal insecticides impregnated in bed nets. Some people are even shooting lasers at mosquitoes! After WWII grand efforts to eliminate malaria with DDT met with mixed results but certainly drove down deaths from the disease.

Indiscriminate spraying of DDT and other chemicals soon caused mosquitoes to develop resistance against the lethal effects. DDT also created environmental concerns especially with bird egg shells. Many believe the Bald Eagle was almost driven to extinction by DDT and other pesticides. The US banned DDT in the early 1970’s for any use and most of the world followed with similar restrictions except for DDT’s use in malaria disease control. WHO approved DDT for restricted use for spraying on the walls of homes and in treated bed nets.

Since almost all R&D investment is for eradicating malaria, any solution that doesn’t kill the mosquito or treat the symptoms like a vaccine or medicine is ignored. Scientists are racing to develop even more toxic insecticides while a vaccine still eludes researchers.

Ounce of Prevention

DDT and many other chemicals, primarily insecticides made from pyrethroids, are used to treat bed nets with the idea that if a mosquito lands on the bed net the insecticide treatment will kill the insect. Indoor Residual Spraying (IRS) follows the same logic by spraying the interior walls of huts with insecticide.  While only 12% of homes have IRS treatment many more have and are using bednets with signs of success but at a high cost

Surprise! A Spatial Repellent

Some researchers have discovered a surprising benefit from DDT in IRS applications. While mosquitoes have developed resistance to the toxicity of DDT they are repelled by a spatial repellent effect.  Homes that have been treated by DDT seem to PREVENT the mosquitoes carrying malaria from entering the home in the first place. This spatial repellent action and its effectiveness in preventing mosquito bites is the primary reason that WHO and other organizations continue to support the use of DDT in malaria disease control. It doesn’t kill them, just keeps them out of your home!

Here is a chart showing both the spatial repellency and the contact irritancy (mosquitoes fly off because of irritation from the chemical) DDT is far more effective than any other chemical for both spatial repellency and contact irritancy.

My company, 141 Repellent, is developing a new active ingredient in partnership with the USDA that has demonstrated spatial repellency in tests by the US Govt.  Combining a spatial repellent with no toxicity for use in malaria disease control is not in line with current thinking of developing lethal solutions but can save millions of lives if implemented.  An internationally known senior scientist in the malaria field said this about isolongifolenone, our new plant-based active ingredient:

“It could have huge impact saving lives.  It could have utility not only for use in malaria programs but could have huge impact in the control of other diseases… A non- toxic compound would be an absolute first in this business of disease control.  Actually, lets be honest, there really is no such thing as a non-toxic chemical.  However, there is potential that your chemicals are much safer than chemicals in present use.  The reason I say this is that each of the chemicals in use today are in use precisely because they are toxic–your chemicals will be the exception.

There are many obstacles to adopting our ounce of prevention as a solution to malaria but we remain optimistic that we can help millions of people avoid malaria until a permanent solution such as a vaccine can be developed.

The author is the founder and CEO of 141 Repellent, Inc.


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  1. Dennis! Do you know the guys at Clarke??? What’s up with 141 ???

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