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Designers create a fashionable mechanism for combating malaria

May 16th, 2012
by Tania

Designers and scientists have teamed up to create a fashionable hooded bodysuit embedded at the molecular level with insecticides designed to combat malaria.
Sandy Mattei models the bodysuit

Sandy Mattei models the bodysuit. Credit: Mark Vorreuter

A scientist from Cornell University and an African designer teamed up on the project which is hoped to ward off mosquitoes infected with malaria.

The duo has attempted to make insecticide-treated nets into everyday wear, allowing those in malaria areas to be protected both in the day and at night.

They used metal organic framework molecules to bind the repellent and fabric at the nanolevel, resulting in a mesh fabric which can be filled with up to three times more insecticide than normal fibrous nets, which usually wear off after about six months.

Frederick Ochanda, postdoctoral associate in Cornell's Department of Fiber Science & Apparel Design and a native of Kenya, said: "The bond on our fabric is very difficult to break.

"The nets in use now are dipped in a solution and not bonded in this way, so their effectiveness doesn't last very long."

Not only is the garment safer for those wearing it, but it is also a very fashionable piece to wear. Matilda Ceesay, a Cornell apparel design undergraduate from Gambia, said that the colourful garment consists of an underlying one-piece body suit, hand-dyed in vibrant hues of purple, gold and blue, and a mesh hood and cape containing the repellent.

Both Mr Ochanda and Ms Ceesay have had family members who have suffered with malaria, and even though they are from the opposite sides of the world, this is what brought them together with an ambition to increase protection in malaria areas.

Mr Ochanda said: "Seeing malaria's effect on people in Kenya, it's very important for me to apply fibre science to help this problem.

"A long-term goal of science is to be able to come up with solutions to help protect human health and life, so this project is very fulfilling for me."

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Posted in Industry News, Medical Science

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