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Global Health, Infectious Disease, Technology

Malaria protection in wearable form

Two Cornell University affiliates have created a sophisticated suit built to keep away mosquitos and the malaria they may carry. A release details the reasoning behind the one-piece body suit, complete with mesh hood and cape:

Though insecticide-treated nets are commonly used to drive away mosquitoes from African homes, the Cornell prototype garment can be worn throughout the day to provide extra protection and does not dissipate easily like skin-based repellants. By binding repellant and fabric at the nanolevel using metal organic framework molecules – which are clustered crystalline compounds – the mesh fabric can be loaded with up to three times more insecticide than normal fibrous nets, which usually wear off after about six months.

“The bond on our fabric is very difficult to break,” said Frederick Ochanda, postdoctoral associate in Cornell’s Department of Fiber Science & Apparel Design and a native of Kenya. “The nets in use now are dipped in a solution and not bonded in this way, so their effectiveness doesn’t last very long.”

The colorful garment, fashioned by Matilda Ceesay, a Cornell apparel design undergraduate from Gambia, debuted on the runway at the Cornell Fashion Collective spring fashion show April 28 on the Cornell campus.

The malaria suit joins other clothing being enlisted to promote good health.

In 2001, a Japanese company debuted a shirt made out of a fiber containing a chemical that turns into Vitamin C upon contact with skin. In recent years, the wearable biometrics movement has brought tiny monitors that can diagnose heart problems and predict seizures. Just today, MobiHealthNews reported that researchers from the University of Arkansas had developed an “e-bra” remote monitoring system that could integrate with women’s sports bras or men’s vests.

Previously: Assessing progress in malaria control and Nanoparticle “tattoo” may one day help diabetics monitor blood sugar
Photo by: Mark Vorreuter

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