Microsoft founder Bill Gates is mulling the use of genetically modified mosquitoes to “vaccinate” people. The technology bigwig and vaccine advocate brings his jab obsession a notch higher with the “flying syringes” project. To make this idea a reality, Gates has provided funding to a Japanese scientist who has pushed the idea of genetically modifying mosquitoes.
Japanese professor Hiroyuki Matsuoka was among the awardees of a $100,000 grant, an October 2008 press release by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation said. The grant allows scientists “from [a] diverse set of disciplines and regions … to explore bold, untested projects.” The Jichi Medical University professor put forward the idea that disease-carrying mosquitoes can be turned into “flying syringes” that vaccinate humans instead.
Using the $100,000 grant from the Gates Foundation, Matsuoka will attempt to design a mosquito that can produce and secrete a malaria vaccine protein. This will be administered into a host’s skin when the mosquitoes “bite” and suck blood from a person. The project aims to discover the potential of genetically modified mosquitoes to deliver vaccines against other infectious diseases. If Matsuoka proves that his idea has merit, he will be eligible to receive another $1 million to support his research.