RIVERSIDE, Calif. — As the malaria death toll climbs, the search for a cure progresses, this time with experiments extending into the animal kingdom. Researchers at ISCA Technologies have begun experiments with a human-scented cologne that will be sprayed on cows in order to divert mosquitoes.
Currently in the beginning stages of development, the cologne has the potential to drastically minimize the number of malaria cases per year. Designed to attract mosquitoes to cows instead of humans, when the malaria carrying female mosquitoes bite the cow, the cow will not contract malaria, suffering only the irritating bite of the mosquito. The Smithsonian describes the cologne as a “mildly-scented shampoo-y goo.” When sprayed on the cows, only the mosquito suffers from the situation, dying after biting the cow.
ISCA Technologies is based in California and works to fight nature’s pests, unique in its methods of developing “environmentally friendly, natural and pheromone based tools and solutions for agricultural and urban applications.” The cologne is just another product on their list of progressive environmental contributions.
The research is being funded by Bill Gates Foundation’s Grand Challenges Explorations, which gave ISCA Technologies a $100,000 grant to put the cologne into motion. A theoretically simple solution, a human-scented cologne could be a gateway to eradicating malaria.
As for how the testing process will go, ISCA plans to test cattle in Kenya and California in order to see how the cows and the mosquitoes respond to the cologne. As of now, the testing is budgeted at one dollar for every cow the cologne is tested on, but the researchers are aware that this isn’t a sustainable budget. The hope is that after some testing has commenced, the cost will be decreased so that the cologne can be utilized in more areas of the world.
So what sort of competition does the cologne currently face in the research realm? Various vaccines are in the works, including one that utilizes protein antibodies to keep malaria from spreading, and preventative measures such as bed nets and insecticides are taken to minimize malaria proliferation.
So why is combating malaria such a high priority for a man like Bill Gates? According to the World Health Organization, 3.4 billion people are at risk of contracting malaria, an often-fatal disease that exists all over the world. Gates and ISCA are among many who have recognized the need for a unique approach in a pool of research and experimentation characterized by many dead-end vaccines and minimal preventative measurements.
Were the cow cologne to see success, poverty could be on the road to reduction. As a population experiences better overall health, the community becomes more stable, happier, and more able to contribute to development efforts. All of this subsequently works to reduce poverty and aid development. Any efforts that can be taken to reduce the number of people worldwide at risk for malaria can mean less poverty. This cologne could be a scent that makes sense.