Challenge #3: Block Transmission - Grey Frandsen, Kite Patch
This Q&A is part of our Solve for M: Five Challenges for Ending Malaria series. Challenge 3 addresses new technologies and approaches that are in development to block the transmission of the malaria parasite between humans and mosquitoes. To learn more about one such innovation, we spoke with Grey Frandsen from Kite Patch, a sticker that protects humans from mosquitoes by disrupting the insect’s ability to detect humans.
1. In our eco-conscious age, a lot of people are wary of putting chemicals on their skin to repel mosquitoes. But mosquito bites are an annoying problem in the U.S., and a deadly one in parts of the world such as Africa and Asia where the pests carry life-threatening diseases, including malaria and dengue fever. Can you tell us how Kite Patch works to protect from mosquitoes without using the traditional skin contact of insect repellents?
Kite Patch is a small, beautifully-designed little “sticker” that creates something akin to an invisibility cloak, or as some suggest, a defense shield, around our bodies with spatial compounds emitted from the materials on the sticker. This product form is being designed to emit a certain level of those spatial compounds over a period of time so that the compounds hover and swirl around the body with movement and wind, and travel away from our bodies in varying distances to intercept mosquitoes as they track toward us. Once mosquitoes come into contact with these compounds, they lose the ability to detect carbon dioxide and sense skin odors – the two primary mechanisms by which they track us.
We’ve designed Kite’s brand to capture the spirit of freedom and joy – something we believe will be the result of new technologies and products, such as Kite Patch, that will lift both the burden of disease and the burden of the fear of disease.
2. Kite Patch coming to fruition was a collaborative effort involving several different groups pitching in on funding. Can you tell us about the process of getting this innovation from the idea to the production stage, and where you’re at now?
Kite Patch absolutely is a story about collaboration. It’s also the result of a new model developed by ieCrowd to transform innovative discoveries into solutions to global challenges. This model brought together the innovative discovery, the capital, the development partners and experts, the team, and the range of stakeholders that now make up the large, global Kite campaign.
People may know the Kite Patch from our Indiegogo campaign. Last year we launched a crowdfunding effort to raise awareness and support for a specific field test of some of our Kite Patch prototypes. We wanted to expand the number of people involved in our development process and inspire people to play a role in getting a new technology to market.
The result was amazing. The campaign went viral and Indiegogo named it one of the top five campaigns ever. We enjoyed support from around the world. Over 500 publications ran original stories about our campaign, the technology, our process for commercializing this technology, and how we branded and marketed the campaign and the product itself.
As for the product itself, Kite technology stems from scientific findings initially discovered at the University of California, Riverside (UCR) with assistance from The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and the National Institutes of Health (NIH). ieCrowd exclusively licensed the technology from UCR, and has, since then, furthered the science into a range of new technologies, in order to advance disruptive products such as Kite Patch. Kite products - ranging from new mosquito repellents to spatial attractants - feature spatial and non-spatial active ingredients.
The next major step is to get Kite Patch to the field, to markets, and into the hands of people who need it the most. To do so, we’ll continue to build partnerships around the world with those who share our passion for eliminating this horrible disease.
3. Some readers may think a sticker is a novelty item, but you see Kite Patch having major implications on the field of public health. Can you tell us how far-reaching you hope Kite Patch will be?
We want to be humble about the role Kite technology and products can play, but we do know this: while our mock-ups make it look cool and pretty (and don’t those kids in the below Kite Patch video look cute? Those are mine!), the Kite technology platform is being developed to support what we believe can be one of the most powerful weapons platform in the fight against mosquito-borne diseases. We have a world-class team working 24/7 to build a powerful platform of actives that can ideally be deployed around the world in a range of applications – all of which will have minimal impact on our health and the health of our environment.
WATCH: Kite Patch in Action
Specifically, we’re working on repellents and attractants that can be deployed in any number of product forms that will play important roles in public health and disease intervention efforts globally. We pay attention to every detail and we’re designing each of our products with history and current technologies and needs in mind. Most importantly, we have opened our development process to people around the world and continue to build our technology and products with significant inputs and feedback from the Kite crowd.
Our technical foundation is strong, and ieCrowd’s system for deploying disruptive new solutions like Kite Patch is ready for action. We’re excited about the prospects of the Kite platform, and with the help of the crowd, amazing partners, and the world’s best team, we have no doubt that it will be among the leading tools to fight against malaria and other mosquito-borne diseases.