Press release (Dec 2015): In2Care part of $10.2 million study to test new malaria-prevention method

WAGENINGEN, The Netherlands — In collaboration with partners in the US, UK and Africa, the Dutch startup In2Care will participate in a $10.2-million study to test a new malaria-prevention method. The study is funded by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation that was awarded to Penn State University in the USA. The team receives this five-year grant to investigate a new method for preventing the transmission of malaria. The method involves limiting mosquito access to houses by screening windows and installing “eave tubes” that contain a unique type of insecticide-laced netting developed by In2Care that kills the insects as they attempt to enter.

“In 2015 an estimated 438 thousand mostly African children and pregnant women died of malaria,” said In2Care’s Director Bart Knols. “Although we have achieved tremendous progress over the last fifteen years and have saved countless lives by using insecticide-treated bednets and indoor spraying with insecticides, resistance to insecticides in mosquitoes is spreading rapidly which may undermine these fragile gains. Eave tubes combine two approaches: First the house is rendered mosquito-proof and second the tubes represent a novel approach to target mosquitoes as they try to enter the house in search of a blood meal.The beauty of it all is that houseoccupants don’t need to do anything, it is passive technology.”

Eave tube explanation picture

According to Matthew Thomas, who will head the study at Penn State, African malaria mosquitoes have a strong preference for entering houses at night through eaves — the gaps between the roofs and the walls of houses. The team’s novel eave tube approach involves blocking the eaves and inserting tubes that act like chimneys to funnel human odors to the exterior of the home. Attracted to the human odors, mosquitoes enter the tubes and encounter netting that has been treated with an electrostatic coating that binds insecticidal particles to it. The netting can hold several kinds of powdered insecticides, including biological agents, and has been shown to break resistance with currently recommended insecticides.

“Since insecticide is only used on small pieces of netting in the tubes, the reduction compared to spraying walls of entire houses is massive, making eave tubes highly cost competitive, especially now that more expensive insecticides are needed due to resistance against the cheaper ones” said Knols. “Furthermore, retreatment is easy, as it requires simple replacement of small pieces of netting within the tubes.”

Eave tube in Tanzanian house

With a $ 5.6 million grant from the EU, the collaborative team of researchers has already conducted a proof-of-concept intervention in which they installed eave tubes in more than 1,800 houses in the Kilombero valley in southern Tanzania. The team found that the eave tubes reduced indoor mosquito densities by up to 90 percent.

The new project funded by the Gates Foundation expands on the previous intervention by installing eave tubes in approximately 6,000 homes in villages in Cote d’Ivoire and Tanzania. The researchers will examine householders in these villages and compare them with equivalent control villages that have not been supplied with eave tubes to determine the effect of the intervention on malaria incidence. The team also will test the mosquitoes caught in the villages for insecticide resistance. Finally, the researchers will conduct socio-economic analyses to determine homeowner acceptance and create strategies for implementation across different regions and market sectors.

“We know that eave tubes can perfectly kill mosquitoes when they contact electrostatic netting; even the ones resistant to insecticides. But that’s not enough to convince policy makers that this approach can be added to the arsenal we have at present. Quite rightly so, before a new approach can be adopted we need to clearly measure the overall impact on disease, not just mosquitoes. That’s what we aim to do in this unique project,” Knols said. “If we are to eradicate malaria from the face of the planet over the next decades it will be essential to move new strategies forward, and especially those that can help to break the vicious circle of insecticide resistance. This is what eave tubes offer.”

Besides PSU, other international partners include the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and the Institut Pierre Richet in Ivory Coast.

More information about the eave tube concept: click here

Quality assured industrial scale production of eave tube inserts for malaria control in Africa (2015-2016)

In collaboration with Prof. Dr. Ir. Jasper van der Gucht, Chair of the Laboratory for Physical Chemistry and Colloid Science of the Wageningen University, we received an STW Take-off Feasibility Study grant.
The key goal of this project is to develop the In2Care eave tube technology in such manner that industrial-scale and quality-assured production becomes possible, to ensure wide-scale uptake in African countries to maximize impact on malarial disease. The grant will be used to develop industrial procedures for particle application on electrostatically charged netting and eave tube insert injection molding.

Mosquito Contamination Device (MCD) project (2012-2015)

In2Care is Project Coordinator of the MCD project. This research project is funded under the European Union’s Framework 7 Health Innovation initiative and aims to develop a novel Mosquito Contamination Device (MCD) for controlling malaria vectors. The goal is to develop prototype products that are effective, low-cost and sustainable.

The project partners include three European SMEs and two academic partners that bring together a unique mix of expertises in materials science, mosquito vector control science, trapping technologies, and entrepreneurial interests. Jointly, we develop and test new vector control techniques, mosquito lures and bioactive ingredients in the laboratory, semi-field cages and field settings in Tanzania. For more information on this project and its progress, click here.

Fungus-treated house screens for mosquito control (2012)

In 2011 we, together with the Ifakara Health Institute in Tanzania, have received an innovation grant from the UBS Optimus Foundation. For this project we developed a first-line house screen product based on a unique coating with fungus spores that can effectively kill mosquitoes. Fungi are promising novel (biological) mosquito control agents that can complement existing mosquito-borne disease interventions.  Added benefit from fungus infection is that it counteracts resistance as a late life killing agent and it makes insecticide resistant mosquitoes susceptible for insecticides once more.

Paint against Dengue mosquitoes (2011-2012)

Our first project was funded by an Innovation Grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and focussed on developing an effective control product against Dengue mosquitoes. During a 12-month R&D project combined known Aedine mosquito attractants with novel mosquito control agents, for which developed a long-lasting coating application in collaboration with two industrial partners.