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Bill Gates to fund 2 Indian ideas

Last updated on: November 11, 2010 12:06 IST

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The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has announced 65 grants of $100,000 each to pursue bold ideas for transforming health in developing countries.  The grants support projects in 16 countries, including India.

Among the technologies that secured the grant are new technologies for contraception. One is a transcervical reversible female contraception under the alternative prevention category.

Sujoy Guha of the Indian Institute of Technology will test a new transcervical contraceptive made from a polymer compound for its ability to incapacitate both sperm and ovum.

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Image: Sujoy Guha.
Photographs: Dipak Chakraborty
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The compound is delivered to the fallopian tubes in liquid form, changed to a semi-solid form with an external application of radio frequency, and can be flushed out for fast and complete reversibility.

Another grant is for development of coated Copper T, again under the alternative prevention category.

The grantee Abi Santhosh Aprem of HLL Lifecare Ltd will attempt to eliminate the side effects associated with copper T intrauterine devices by coating the copper with biodegradable polymers.

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The polymers prevent bulk shedding of copper ions that cause bleeding, cramping and pain, leading to increased acceptance of the contraceptive device.

Among the other projects is an idea like a TB vaccine delivered in a traditional Asian bean dish, a mobile phone tool to identify complications for community health workers caring for pregnant women and newborns, and solar powered, therapeutic blankets of light for newborns suffering from jaundice.

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Image: Bill Gates holds baby girl Cecil Massango during his visit to a health centre in Mozambique.
Photographs: Juda Ngwenya/Reuters
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"Grand Challenges Explorations is producing innovative ways to tackle ongoing global health challenges like vaccine delivery and caring for mothers and newborns," said Dr Tachi Yamada, president of the Gates Foundation's Global Health Program.

"By applying mobile technology and other tools to global health, we hope to produce breakthrough solutions that could save countless lives."

In five rounds of the foundation's Grand Challenges Explorations initiative, 405 researchers representing 34 countries have been awarded grants.

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Projects in this round include developing a synthetic lymph node to deliver vaccines, creating a low cost needle-free treatment for post-partum bleeding, and making a mobile phone-based tool that combines diagnostic testing with economic incentives to improve drug compliance.

The grantees were selected from over 2,400 proposals. 

A range of disciplines are represented, including applicants from traditional life sciences, public health, engineering, math and computer sciences.

They are based at universities, research institutes, hospitals, non-profit organisations, and private companies around the world.


Image: Bill Gates.

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