Grand Challenges is a family of initiatives fostering innovation to solve key global health and development problems. Each initiative is an experiment in the use of challenges to focus innovation on making an impact. Individual challenges address some of the same problems, but from differing perspectives.
Jeffrey R. Bloomquist of the University of Florida in the U.S. will investigate a voltage-sensitive potassium channel as a new target for mosquitocides.
Robert M. Kennedy of the Vestaron Corporation in the U.S. will develop synthetic chemical mimics of selectively insecticidal natural peptides.
Peter M. Piermarini of the Ohio State University in the U.S. will use high throughput screening to discover chemicals that induce kidney failure in the malaria vector Anopheles gambiae.
Barry Beaty of the Colorado State University in the U.S. will develop an innovative and robust, platform-based approach for sustainable insecticidal control of Anopheline mosquitoes.
Mosquitoes that spread malaria parasites use their sense of smell to find human hosts. Dr. Zwiebel is leading an international consortium of investigators that seeks to understand and ultimately interfere with the molecular basis of the insects' sense of smell. Their work seeks to develop safe, effective and low-cost products that would either repel mosquitoes or attract them to traps. Zwiebel (Grand Challenges in Global Health: 2005-2015 retrospective)
Efforts to control the spread of malaria face serious challenges, including the parasite’s increased resistance to both medications and insecticides and environmental concerns about the use of traditional insecticides. Mosquitoes that spread malaria parasites use their sense of smell to find human hosts, most often by cueing in on the scent of human sweat and the carbon dioxide present in breath. Drs. Axel and Vosshall and their colleagues are seeking to develop a new generation of insect repellents that work by disrupting the olfactory system of the Anopheles mosquito, the primary vector in Africa. Axel, Vosshall (Grand Challenges in Global Health: 2005-2015 retrospective)
The malaria parasites' increased resistance to both medications and insecticides and environmental concerns about the use of traditional insecticides pose major challenges to decreasing the rate and breadth of infection. Dr. Bloomquist and his colleagues are using advanced molecular modeling and a novel chemical synthesis method called "click chemistry" in an effort to produce insecticides specifically targeted to the primary malaria vector mosquitoes, Anopheles gambiae. The insecticides would work by inhibiting the essential enzyme acetylcholinesterase (AChE) in mosquitoes. They could be used as a potentially safer and more effective alternative to existing insecticides used in treating bed nets.